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ABSOLUTE POVERTY LEVEL: The amount of income a person or family needs to purchase an absolute amount of the basic necessities of life. These basic necessities are identified in terms of calories of food, BTUs of energy, square feet of living space, etc. The problem with the absolute poverty level is that there really are no absolutes when in comes to consuming goods. You can consume a given poverty level of calories eating relatively expensive steak, relatively inexpensive pasta, or garbage from a restaurant dumpster. The income needed to acquire each of these calorie "minimums" vary greatly. That's why some prefer a relative poverty level.

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NATURAL UNEMPLOYMENT: The combination of frictional and structural unemployment that persists in an efficient, expanding economy when labor and resource markets are in equilibrium. Natural unemployment exists when the economy is at full employment, which for practical purposes is defined as the condition in which the quantity of resources demanded is equal to the quantity of resources supplied. Most important for policy purposes, natural employment exists with stable prices, that is, no inflation.

     See also | frictional unemployment | structural unemployment | full employment | inflation | unemployment | natural unemployment rate | long-run aggregate supply |


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UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

The proportion of the civilian labor force 16 years or older that is actively seeking employment, but is unemployed and not engaged in the production of goods and services. The unemployment rate is estimated and reported monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. It is used not only as the prime measure of labor unemployment in the economy, but also as a key indicator of business-cycle instability. In principle, the unemployment rate measures the proportion of the labor that is willing and able to work, but not employed. In practice, the official unemployment rate is simply the ratio of total unemployment to the total civilian labor force, in percentage terms.

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