Excel files containing real-time estimates of the NAIRU can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

Prefatory Note for the Real-Time NAIRU

The Federal Reserve staff’s real-time estimates of the NAIRU should be interpreted with caution. First, there is no unique conceptual definition of the NAIRU, and the definition used in Federal Reserve staff estimates of the NAIRU has evolved over time. Indeed, a number of specific definitional changes should be noted:

  • In early 1994, the staff modified its estimate of the NAIRU to account for the estimated impact of the redesign of the Current Population Survey on measured unemployment.
  • From November 1997 through June 2002, the staff interpreted the relatively rapid productivity growth seen in the late 1990s as a factor temporarily holding down inflation, thereby allowing a lower unemployment rate to be consistent with a stable inflation rate, and the staff’s NAIRU estimates incorporated this productivity effect. As of August 2002, however, the staff’s definition of the NAIRU was modified to exclude such temporary productivity effects.
  • At several points in time, the Congress extended the length of time that unemployed individuals are eligible to receive unemployment insurance compensation. In the staff’s view, these extensions tended to raise the unemployment rate to some degree without affecting labor market slack and hence were viewed as raising the effective NAIRU. However, while these considerations were incorporated into the staff’s economic outlook, the measure of the NAIRU reported in this data excludes such effects.

It should also be noted that at any given point in time, the staff was most concerned about estimating the contemporaneous NAIRU and hence may have devoted somewhat less attention to revising the historical NAIRU estimates, especially for dates in the relatively distant past. Consequently, definitional changes or modifications in the estimation procedures may not have been incorporated into the retrospective NAIRU estimates until somewhat later than the point in time at which these adjustments were made to the contemporaneous NAIRU estimate. Finally, it should be noted that each vintage of NAIRU estimates was archived in an electronic database but not reported in the Tealbook/Greenbook, and hence these data are not necessarily free from typographical errors.

If you have any questions about the data, please contact Tom Stark at tom.stark@phil.frb.org.

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