U.S. Job Openings Now More Than 4 Million: Opportunities Galore


American businesses claim over and over that they cannot find people with the required skills or with the proper qualifications to fill job openings. It turns out that Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the so-called JOLTS report for the month of November. While there is a one-month lag on this versus unemployment and payrolls, the Labor Department showed that job openings in America are now at 4.001 million.

What stands out the most about this report is that the 4 million job openings threshold has not been seen since March of 2008. That puts the openings at nearly a six-year high! This 4.001 million is also 84% higher than the series low in July 2009.

Geographic and workforce limitations are going to always be serious issues to an economy with full employment, but there exists here an opportunity now to remedy the U.S. unemployment issue once and for all. The number of counted unemployed people per job opening is also at a post-recession low.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover report is a signal that the labor market is still slowly on the mend. It is also comes with a hint of a suggestion that the Federal Reserve can continue tapering its bond buying activities. There were 4.001 million job openings at the end of November, versus 3.931 million at the end of October.

The hires rate came to 3.3% in November, while the separations rate came to 3.1%. This was effectively unchanged from October. BLS data showed that there were 4.494 million hires in November, versus 4.484 million in October.

The BLS showed 4.258 million total separations in November, up marginally from the 4.205 million reported in October. What matters most is the worker mobility, or moving up the ladder: the quits rate was 1.8% in nonfarm, with the total private sector at 2.0% and the government at 0.6%. The number of quits at 2.4 million in November is still far below the 2.9 million quits in December 2007, which the BLS considers as the first month of the recession.

Having more than 4 million job openings is great. One problem is that the army of unemployed, those taking jobless benefits in successive weeks, was shown to have risen by 174,000 to 3.03 million. This leaves basically a gap of 1 million openings for other recently out of work workers. The BLS also showed on Thursday that the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending December 28 was 4,703,499 (up some 508,309 from the previous week).

Some job openings can never be filled easily, due to technical training lag times and perhaps due to where the jobs are compared to where the applicants are. That being said, it sure seems that with some serious effort the U.S. employment issue could be much better than it currently is.

Filed under: Jobs