What Should I Expect from Frictional Unemployment?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2018
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Frictional unemployment is one of the various categories of unemployment. The attributes of this type of unemployment include the fact that is one of the unemployment types that always exists in any economy due to its unique characteristics. Frictional unemployment occurs due to the attempts by workers to look for jobs other than the ones they have been offered. It may also be the result of the placement of a moratorium on hiring by a company as a result of an erroneous belief that the workers with the desired human capital are not available.

One of the situations where frictional unemployment may occur is when individuals are not satisfied with the types of jobs they are offered or that they find through various efforts. For instance, a journalist might not be able to find any type of journalism job, and instead of accepting something else the individual might decide to wait until an opening in the journalism field comes up. In this case, the unemployment is the choice of the individual who would rather remain unemployed than to accept something else in another field. Another example of where such a situation could occur is when an individual is looking for work in a particular city. If the individual fails to find work in the city of choice, he or she might decide to hang on and remain unemployed while waiting for the desired job opening.


Most times, frictional unemployment is the result of an inefficient dissemination of information or a lack of adequate research on the part of the employers or the prospective employees. Frictional unemployment could also occur when an employer believes that the present set of applicants do not match the requirements for the positions they have applied. Where this is the case, the employer of labor may decide to leave the positions open rather than employ people who may be under qualified to fill the posts. As such, unemployment is the result of employers refusing to hire people they do not believe have the ability to effectively perform the duties required for the posts.

Sometimes, frictional unemployment is the result of a deliberate effort by employees to hold out for something better. For instance, if an individual wants to work in a particular pharmaceutical laboratory that pays a comparatively higher wage than others and that offers good benefits, the worker might decide to work in a related field for free while waiting for the opportunity. In this case, even though the worker is employed, the lack of utilization of the full skills or human capital of the worker is considered to be a kind of frictional unemployment.



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