Even when the economy is holding steady, the unemployment rate tends to fluctuate because of seasonal effects. For example, unemployment generally goes up in Quarter 3 (summer) as students (including new graduates) enter the labor market. The unemployment rate then tends to go down in Quarter 4 (fall) as students return to school and temporary help is hired for the Christmas season. Therefore, using seasonal factors to obtain a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is helpful for painting a truer picture of economic trends.
Over the past 10 years, one state’s average unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) in Quarters 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been 6.2 percent, 6.0 percent, 7.5 percent, and 5.5 percent, respectively. The overall average has been 6.3 percent. (Use hand calculations below rather than an Excel template.)
(a) Determine the seasonal factors for the four quarters.
(b) Over the next year, the unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) for the four quarters turn out to be 7.8 percent, 7.4 percent, 8.7 percent, and 6.1 percent. Determine the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for the four quarters. What does this progression of rates suggest about whether the state’s economy is improving?

  • CreatedSeptember 22, 2015
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