Teaching Guide: Types of Unemployment

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Identify the different reasons people may be unemployed.
  • Understand the various types of unemployment: frictional, structural, seasonal and cyclical


The unemployment rate in the United States is a specific calculation performed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics using data collected the Census Bureau. The technical definition, however, may be different than a more casual definition provided outside of the field of economics. This particular teaching guide is intended to be used as a review of a lesson on the various types of unemployment. There are two clips to have students identify the types of unemployment in scenes from the show, then a closing activity that has students identify types of unemployment from scenarios.

In the scene below, Amy and her husband sneak away to the photo lab for some personal time together. While there, Adam notices they have a large format printer, which Amy had previously lied to him about owning. Adam is offended by the revelation because he blames the failure of his business on the lack of a large-format printer. Amy believes differently.

While Adam is employed in this particular scene, he was unemployed after his business failed. Have students identify which type of unemployment that would most closely align to.

Cyclical Unemployment

In the a episode, the regional manager (Jeff) had called Glenn to let him know that that 10% of the workforce had to bet let. In the scene below, Glenn decides to invite the Jeff to Cheyenne’s wedding in an attempt to convince him not to require that he layoff 10% of the store’s staff. If the store is letting people go because of a drop in sales, which type of unemployment would this represent?

Closing Activity

As a closing activity, have students complete the table below on various types of unemployment. You can copy and paste the table into a Word file to print and share with the class, or you can call on students to identify the type on response. If you’re using classroom response systems, you can have students respond with a remote answer.

Marcus is laid off because of an ongoing recession.
Marcus is laid off because the store has automated a portion of their job responsibilities.
Christmas is over and actors who play Santa are no longer in demand.
(Accompanying clip)
Cheyenne quits her job to go back to school full time.
Mateo quits so that he can search for a job back in the Phillipines.