What Is the Difference Between Seasonal Unemployment & Structural Unemployment?

People who are structurally unemployed do not have the skills to find new jobs.

Although you may be used to hearing the unemployment rate as reported by news outlets, that percentage doesn't tell you what causes unemployment. A number of factors contribute to that unemployment rate. Structural and seasonal unemployment are two types of unemployment.

Structural Unemployment

Structural unemployment is caused when workers' skills do not match employers' needs. Often this is the result of new technology, which eliminates the need for workers in industries that deal with older technologies. Demand for workers in a certain industry can decrease for other reasons. People who are structurally unemployed have skills that qualify them for virtually no jobs, and they will have a very difficult time finding jobs unless they gain new skills.

Solving Structural Unemployment

Individuals who are structurally unemployed can solve this problem by gaining work skills that employers find desirable. You can attend a vocational program or college to learn a new trade or industry. You may also look for employers with on-the-job training programs. Some trucking companies and appliance-repair businesses, for example, offer schools or programs that will prepare you to work for them.

Seasonal Employment Definition

Unlike structural employment, seasonal employment is caused not by changes in technology and industry but by the changing weather and seasons. Seasonal employment occurs when workers are unemployed because the industries in which they work only need some employees for part of the year.

Seasonal Unemployment and the Unemployment Rate

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seasonal employment is natural and occurs year after year, unlike structural employment. In many cases, those who are seasonally unemployed choose to be. For example, seasonal unemployment accounts for the large number of teenagers who are unemployed during the school year. For this reason, the BLS uses a technique called seasonal adjustment to account for normal seasonal unemployment when figuring the overall unemployment rate. Seasonal adjustment allows statisticians to see how unemployment rates have changed because of factors other than normal seasonal unemployment.