The Hidden Unemployed

Back in 1994, when John Langmore and I wrote Work for All, we pointed out the massive increase in the number of older men receiving what is now the Disability Support Pension, and observed that this was a form of hidden unemployment. Similar disguised unemployment is present in a number of European countries, including the UK and the Netherlands. But until I read this piece, I wasn’t aware that the same thing was happening in the US. Even though the US isn’t unique, this further undermines the claims that flexible US labour markets are the way to solve unemployment problems. The increase in disability and imprisonment in the US over the last decade amounts to 3 or 4 per cent of the workforce, suggesting that any realistic estimate of US unemployment rates is in double digits.

One thought on “The Hidden Unemployed

  1. Interesting article. I am currently researching, for my PhD, the phenomenon of hidden unemployment (specifically Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance) in Glasgow, which currently has 17.2% of its working age population on sickness/disability benefits. I therefore would be very interested in any future articles you might find/write about which provide evidence of the problem in the USA (I have already read the recent article by Autor and Duggan ‘The Rise in Disability Recipiency and the Decline in Unemployment’2002)
    Elizabeth Crowley

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