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Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment


The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU) refers to a theoretical level of unemployment below which inflation would be expected to rise. Essentially, it is the lowest rate of unemployment that an economy can sustain without causing inflation. In other words, it represents a balance between having as many people working as possible and maintaining stable inflation rates.


The phonetic spelling of “Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment” would be:Non-Accelerating: “non – ack – sel – er – a – ting”Inflation: “in – flay – shun”Rate: “rayt”of: “uhv”Unemployment: “un – em – ploy – ment”

Key Takeaways


  1. The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU) is an economic concept that represents the lowest level of unemployment that an economy can handle without causing inflation to increase. This is often seen as the ‘natural’ rate of unemployment.
  2. According to NAIRU, if unemployment falls below this rate, it will trigger inflation. This is because when businesses need to compete for fewer available workers, they increase wages, which, in turn, raises costs and price levels throughout the economy.
  3. In economic policy, NAIRU is important because it provides target unemployment rates for governments to strive for. However, calculating the precise NAIRU for any given economy can be difficult, and it often changes over time due to factors such as technological advancements, demographic shifts, and changes in labor market institutions.



The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment, often referred to as NAIRU, is a key concept in macroeconomics and economic policy-making, as it represents the theoretical lowest level of unemployment that an economy can sustain without inflation rising. Economists and policy makers monitor NAIRU because the concept helps them balance two critical economic goals – maintaining low unemployment rates and preventing high inflation. Unemployment below this rate is thought to accelerate inflation, whereas above this rate, there will be no inflationary pressure. Thus, the NAIRU serves as an important tool in designing and implementing appropriate monetary policies, aimed at achieving stable inflation rates and promoting sustainable long-term economic growth.


The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU) serves as a significant benchmark for central banks to formulate their monetary policies. NAIRU refers to the unemployment level, at which inflation remains stable, having no significant accelerating or decelerating influence. The concept gained prominence as central banks aimed to strike a balance between keeping unemployment low and managing inflation rates. Deducing this balance is essential because while central banks want to keep unemployment levels low, doing so could potentially overstimulate the economy and cause an inflationary surge. Thus, NAIRU serves as a barometer to aid central banks in achieving an equilibrium.In terms of application, when unemployment rates fall below NAIRU, it’s perceived as an indication of an overheated economy, which can lead to higher inflation. Conversely, if unemployment increases above the NAIRU level, it could signal that there is too much slack in the economy, leading possibly to decelerating inflation or even deflation. Therefore, NAIRU is helpful for central banks to prevent economic instability, primarily through monetary policy adjustments. However, it’s noteworthy to add that the concept of NAIRU remains contentious among economists due to its complex determinants and the difficulty in measuring it accurately. Nonetheless, it’s a vital tool that influences significant monetary decisions.


1. United States in the 1990s: Throughout the latter half of the 1990s, the U.S. experienced a period of sustained economic growth and low inflation. Interestingly, the unemployment rate was lower than what was generally considered NAIRU (Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment). Economists were puzzled as they would typically expect falling unemployment to be paired with rising inflation, but inflation remained flat. It was suggested that technological advancements that boosted productivity might have temporarily reduced the NAIRU.2. United Kingdom in the mid-2000s:The UK economy implemented monetary policy based on the concept of NAIRU in the mid-2000s. However, the perceived NAIRU was around 5%, but inflation remained relatively stable during this period even as the actual unemployment rate fell below this level. Some analysts point to an influx of immigrant workers that helped to suppress wage growth and thus inflation, suggesting that factors outside of an economy might impact the actual level of NAIRU.3. Australia in the 2010s:Australia’s NAIRU has been estimated to be around 5%, but during the 2010s, the unemployment rate was often above this level and inflation remained low. During this period, policy makers at the Reserve Bank of Australia focused on strategies to stimulate the economy and lower the unemployment rate. Consequently, Australia experienced remarkably stable inflation even with shifting unemployment rates.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU)?

The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU) is an economics theory stating the minimum level of unemployment that can occur without causing inflation to accelerate. It’s essentially the lowest point to which unemployment can fall without causing prices to increase.

How is NAIRU used in the economy?

Policymakers, particularly central banks, use the concept of NAIRU when managing monetary policy. If unemployment is above the NAIRU, inflation will decrease; if unemployment is below the NAIRU, inflation will increase.

Can the NAIRU be observed directly?

No, the NAIRU cannot be directly observed. It’s estimated using complex econometric models. The value of NAIRU can also change over time due to various factors such as technological progress and changes in the labor market structure.

Does reaching the NAIRU mean a country does not have unemployment issues?

No, reaching the NAIRU does not mean that a country is unemployment-free. The NAIRU refers to the level of unemployment that does not cause inflation to increase or decrease. It does not imply that there are no unemployed workers.

Does NAIRU suggest that some level of unemployment is necessary for the economy to function properly?

While NAIRU does not suggest that unemployment is desirable, it does suggest that there’s a certain level of unemployment the economy tends to gravitate towards, and at this rate, inflation stays stable.

How does NAIRU relate to inflation?

NAIRU suggests a specific unemployment rate at which inflation neither rises nor falls. If the actual unemployment rate is below the NAIRU, it could put upward pressure on inflation. Conversely, if the actual unemployment rate is above the NAIRU, it may put downward pressure on inflation.

How can policy-makers use NAIRU to influence the economy?

Policymakers, especially central banks, can adjust monetary policies based on the NAIRU. If unemployment is above the NAIRU, central banks might decrease interest rates to stimulate economic activity, while if unemployment is below the NAIRU, central banks could consider increasing interest rates to prevent inflation.

How is NAIRU different from natural rate of unemployment?

Although both terms are similar, they have subtle differences. The natural rate of unemployment refers to the rate of unemployment when the labor market is in equilibrium, while NAIRU specifically refers to the level of unemployment at which inflation remains stable.

Related Finance Terms

  • Natural Rate of Unemployment: This term refers to the level of unemployment at which there is no upward or downward pressure on inflation. It is often equated with the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU).
  • Phillips Curve: A concept in economics that illustrates the inverse relationship between rates of unemployment and corresponding rates of inflation in an economy–central to the rationale behind NAIRU.
  • Structural Unemployment: This form of unemployment arises due to an imbalance between job seekers’ skills and the requirements by employers – a common factor that can affect NAIRU.
  • Cyclical Unemployment: A factor that affects NAIRU, this term refers to the unemployment that results from a period of recession within the business cycle.
  • Monetary Policy: The policy designed and implemented by central bank regarding control of the supply of money in the market is called monetary policy. It uses tactics like changing interest rates to control inflation which is directly connected to the concept of NAIRU.

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