I think yes. Is my reasoning correct? The reasoning:

Suppose, for an example, that prostitution was legal, but then the State changed its laws and criminalized prostitution. Has the State created structural unemployment? From point of view of the State and official economy prostituion as a job stopped existing. There WAS such a job, but it's no more due to new laws. We don't consider illegal activites to be jobs, like we don't consider a professional bank robber to having a job of bank-robbing.

Let's consider subtler (and crazier) example: the government made it illegal to own computers. Programming as a profession died as the result. This is a subtler example because programming wasn't made illegal. Technically you don't need to own a computer to create a program. You can create a program using a pen and paper and then send the result to a person/organization that owns a computer somewhere abroad, where computers are legal. Or you can borrow a computer and then program it. The first approach is so cumbersome that it's absolutely unpragrmatical and uncompetitive, while the second approach (borrowing) requires somebody who can own a computer. Programming as such wouldn't be illegal, but due to pragmatic considerations it would involve, directly (when a programmer owns their computer) or indirectly (when a programmer uses computer owned by somebody else) breaking new laws. So practically people would be forced to abandon programming as a way to make ends meet because they wouldn't want to get in a trouble with the Law. I think that it's an example of structural unemployment because by its consequences for programmers it would be similiar to society losing ability to get and use computers (as users, not as programmers).

The third example. Suppose the State had death penalty, but then banned it. People who previously earned their living as executioners lost ability to continue working as executioners. From their point of view consequences are the same as if they were made obsolete by robotic executioners. So here we have structural unemployment.

The fourth example. Suppose minimum wages law was introduced. And minimum wages were set so generous that some part-time job disappeared. I would argue that it's structural unemployment because consequences are the same (from point of view of people who previously worked at part-time jobs) as if said part-time jobs were automatized.

Each of this example shows that structural unemployment can result from regulations/laws. Although it's excessive, technically we need at the least one correct example, so I in sense overproved it.

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    $\begingroup$ 2. pointed out how your definition seems to differ from the established one. This could be explained if you did 1., but you do not do so. You are arguing in circles. $\endgroup$ – Giskard Feb 9 '20 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ If you ask for comments then be receptive to comments. $\endgroup$ – Giskard Feb 9 '20 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ From Wikipedia: "Structural unemployment is a form of involuntary unemployment caused by a mismatch between the skills that workers in the economy can offer, and the skills demanded of workers by employers" I assume you are now going to ask "but that how is that different from my examples?" so I am going to start you with example one: is prostitution really the only thing a prostitute is good at, not just the most lucrative (or most desirable by another metric)? You can argue the same thing with your other examples. $\endgroup$ – Giskard Feb 9 '20 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Giskard If this is not structural unemployment, then nothing is structural unemployment: is <skill> really the only thing <technologically displaced workers> are good at, not just the most lucrative/desirable? $\endgroup$ – user253751 Feb 10 '20 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Giskard Why that particular group? Don't you have to support why people in general would only have one skill? Which they wouldn't, because for example, they can (mostly) all read and write, but reading and writing aren't skills that are in demand to match the number of people who can do them. $\endgroup$ – user253751 Feb 11 '20 at 12:53

From Wikipedia:

Structural unemployment is a form of involuntary unemployment caused by a mismatch between the skills that workers in the economy can offer, and the skills demanded of workers by employers (also known as the skills gap).

By this definition, any time workers have skills for which there is not enough demand, and don't have skills for which they can get a job, there is structural unemployment.

So yes, the government can create structural unemployment if they do something which results in people having the wrong skills. Banning (or effectively banning) a job that lots of people were doing will create structural unemployment. Heavily subsidizing the wrong education (so people get the wrong skills) will create structural unemployment. Anything that affects the economy - taxes, tariffs, price floors/ceilings, and so on - can create structural unemployment by changing the demand for skills (minimum wage is a price floor).

As I read it, structural unemployment is usually a temporary situation. If everything works out for those people, they will find another job they can do, which may involve learning new skills.

And note that since I said anything can create it, it is not necessarily shameful. If we had to avoid creating structural unemployment then nothing in society would ever progress. I mention this since your question sounds a little bit like an anti-government rant.

  • $\begingroup$ Please, provide a definition from more reputable source than a sourceless Wikipedia article. I can offer definition from Macroeconomics textbook by Krugman: "Structural unemployment is unemployment that results when there are more people seeking jobs in a labor market than there are jobs available at the current wage rate." I consider this definition to be from reputable source. Although I see it problematical, because then cyclical and seasonal unemployment are structural too. $\endgroup$ – user161005 Feb 11 '20 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ @user161005 By that definition, structural unemployment is only possible because of either wage price controls or market inefficiency. Otherwise, the wage rate would move towards the point at which the number of job seekers and the number of jobs are equal. $\endgroup$ – user253751 Feb 11 '20 at 10:26

We don't really need to prove any examples because we can have more general proof. We can conclude that structural unemployment can be caused by regulations/laws of the government by just reading related definitions from reputable sources (Wikipedia isn't a reputable source, by the way).

Definition of structural unemployment from "Modern principles of macroeconomics" by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok (Appendix B):

Structural unemployment is persistent, long-term unemployment caused by long-lasting shocks or permanent features of an economy that make it more difficult for some workers to find jobs.

Now, according to Investopedia there is such thing as "policy shock" (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economic-shock.asp)

Policy shocks are changes in government policy that have a profound economic effect. The economic impact of a policy shock might even be the goal of a government action. It could be an expected side effect or an entirely unintended consequence as well. Fiscal policy is, in effect, a deliberate economic demand shock, positive or negative, intended to smooth out aggregate demand over time. The imposition of tariffs and other barriers to trade can create a positive shock for domestic industries but a negative shock to domestic consumers.

From this we can conclude that regulations and laws by the government can create structural unemployment, namely through policy shock.

  • $\begingroup$ "Wikipedia isn't a reputable source, by the way [...] Now, according to Investopedia" :D $\endgroup$ – Giskard Feb 14 '20 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Giskard Do you have any reasons to believe that Investopedia is a bad source? $\endgroup$ – user161005 Feb 14 '20 at 8:36

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