Wednesday, 08 April 2015 08:17

Unemployment - Video

Unemployment is a measure of the number of people who are willing, able and actively seeking work at the going wage rate but cannot find it. Typically it is measured by the Labour Force Survey which seeks to establish whether people have been looking for work recently and whether they can start work soon. Sometimes the government uses the Claimant Count, which simply measures the number of people claiming unemployment benefit. This produces a much lower number which could mislead people into thinking that a far greater proportion of the population are working, however it does reflect the number of unemployed people that the tax payer is supporting.

There are a number of different types of unemployment such as frictional - those in between jobs, cyclical - because of a lack of aggregate demand due to the economic cycle and structural - due to a skills mismatch when workers do not have the skills required by an ever changing economy. Each of these types has a different solution. Frictional unemployment is best reduced by improving information on job vacancies, cyclical by improving aggregate demand and structural by offering retraining programs.

The key to most exam questions on inflation is to establish and explain which cause(s) of unemployment are relevant to the specific context of the question and then explain which problems and solutions are most relevant and why. The sources will give you hits and clues so use them wisely.

The revision video below will give you a brief overview of the unemployment topic and cover all the major concepts you need for AS and A2 Economics exams such as measurements, causes, problems and solutions.

Published in The National Economy
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 07:48

Inflation - Video

Inflation is the sustained rise in the general price level and is measured by calculating the percentage change in a price index. The main measures you will come across are the CPI (consumer price index) and the RPI (retail price index). They are calculated in different ways and so will give different results but both take the same approach - calculating the change in price of a weighted basket of goods.

Cost-push inflation is caused by the increase in firms'  costs leading to increasing prices. It can create a wage-price spiral where workers demand increased wages, which in turn increases firms'  costs, increasing prices, resulting in further wage demands. Demand-pull inflation on the other hand is caused by demand for goods outstripping supply, leading to shortages and price rises.

Each of these types of inflation can cause problems such as menu and shoe leather costs - the cost of changing price prices and searching out the best prices each time prices change. Inflation also tends to redistribute wealth from savers to borrowers as it erodes the value of debts and savings. This is particularly problematic if inflation is high and interest rates are low. Typically these costs are small if inflation is low and predictable but they can become significant with high or erratic inflation.

The solutions to inflation depend on the type of inflation. Reducing aggregate demand, for example by increasing interest rates, will help to solve demand-pull inflation but will have a limited impact on cost-push inflation, which is better tackled by policies to increase competition amongst firms or reducing trade union power which will help to prevent a wage-price spiral becoming established.

The revision video below will give you a brief overview of the inflation topic and cover all the major concepts you need for AS and A2 Economics exams

Published in The National Economy
Monday, 16 March 2015 00:00

Inflation - Measuring Inflation

There are many different measures of inflation but all the main ones work in the same way. They attempt to measure changes in the cost of living for the average consumer using a weighted basket of goods.

 

The weighted basket

A notional basket of goods is created and the cost of the goods and services in the basked calculated. The cost of those products s then calculated again at regular intervals and compared with the first price. The goods in the basket are weighted according to the proportion of income consumers spend on those items. This is important as it means a change in the price of petrol is taken into account more than a change in the price of matches, which are a very small part of most people’s budget. Different measures of inflation include different items and different weightings. All indexes are updated regularly to ensure the goods they contain are still bought and used by households

Index Numbers

The price of this basket of goods is expressed as an index number, which has advantages and disadvantages:

  • Allows easy comparison with base year
  • Focuses on changes rather than absolute values

 But it

  •  Does not show the actual price of the basket
  • Only shows percentage change from the base year.

 

An index picks a base year and sets the price of the basket of goods in that year equal to 100. Every subsequent year is then compared to this base year. To calculate an index number:

Calculate Inflation Index

There are no units for an index number.

For example

Year

Price

2014

£1,300

2015

£1,400

2016

£1,450

 

If the base year is 2014 then the index number for this year will be 100.

The index number for 2015 will be

2015 Inflation Index Working

Have a go at the index for 2016. The answer is at the bottom of the page.

 

This inflation rate

To work out the inflation rate you need to calculate a percentage change. This is easy if you are comparing to the base year – just take off 100, but if you are comparing any two other years you need to use this formula

Inflation Rate Equation

So to work out the inflation in 2014:

Calculation for 2014 Inflation Rate

Have a go at inflation in 2015.

 

 

Answers:

2016 index number is

2016 Inflation Index Answer

Which gives an inflation rate of

 

2015 Inflation Rate Answer

Published in The National Economy