Estimating Natural Rates of Unemployment: A Primer


Brandyn Bok

Richard K. Crump

Christopher J. Nekarda

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2023-25 | August 1, 2023

Before the pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate reached a historic low that was close to estimates of its underlying longer-run value and the short-run level associated with an absence of inflationary pressures. After two turbulent years, unemployment returned to its pre-pandemic low, and the estimated underlying longer-run unemployment rate appeared largely unchanged. However, economic disruptions pushed up the short-run noninflationary rate substantially, as high as 6%. This primer examines these different measures of the natural rate of unemployment and discusses how they can provide useful insights for policymakers.

Article Citation

Bok, Brandyn, Christopher J. Nekarda, Nicolas Petrosky-Nadeau, and Richard K. Crump. 2023. “Estimating Natural Rates of Unemployment: A Primer,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2023-25. Available at

About the Author
Nicolas Petrosky-Nadeau
Nicolas Petrosky-Nadeau is a vice president in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Learn more about Nicolas Petrosky-Nadeau