Friday, June 08, 2018

American Job Openings Now Outnumber the Jobless

U.S. job openings rose to 6.7 million at the end of April, compared with the 6.3 million Americans who were unemployed

By Eric Morath of The WSJ. Excerpts:
"For the first time since such record-keeping began in 2000, the number of available positions exceeded the number of job seekers"

"U.S. job openings rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.7 million at the end of April, a record high, and more than the 6.3 million Americans who were unemployed"

"Meanwhile, the share of Americans who are working or seeking work has generally declined for almost two decades. That gives employers fewer potential workers to draw from, but also suggests there remain hundreds of thousands of Americans who could be drawn back into the labor force.

And they may be waiting for better wages. Hourly pay for nonsupervisors rose 2.8% in May from a year earlier, the best annual gain since mid-2009. But the last time unemployment was as low, wages for those workers rose 3.9% from a year earlier.
The largest number of April openings, 1.3 million, were in the broad business-services sector, which includes everything from accountants and software developers to temporary staffers and clerical workers.
There were also ample job openings in some of the lowest-paying fields. There were 844,000 accommodation and food-service jobs open in April and 735,000 unfilled retail positions."

"[an expert]  is asking clients if they are being realistic in their demands for workers with clean criminal histories and higher levels of education."

"a tighter labor market presents several challenges to businesses. If they can’t find workers to meet the demand for their products, they can’t help the economy grow."

"Firms may need to pay more to attract workers, and some already are. That raises costs and would cut profit margins if higher prices can’t be passed on to customers."

"There are, however, still an elevated number of Americans who are stuck in part-time jobs and would prefer full-time work. And others are employed but not in the jobs they want."
Justin Lahart, also of the WSJ, had an article the same day on this topic. See
One Surprising Reason Why Companies Struggle to Fill Jobs: The churn rate in the jobs market is less than you’d think with unemployment at multi-decade lows, and one reason is an aging workforce. Excerpts:
"people aren’t changing jobs as much as you’d expect."

"One measure of churn—the sum of hires and separations as a share of overall employment—stood at 7.4% in April, around where it has been for the past year. That is far better than the 5.9% it plumbed in 2009, but still below the 8% it reached in 2006 when the unemployment rate was 4.6%."

"The U.S. workforce is aging, and older workers are less likely to job hop. Housing costs are high, particularly in some of the urban areas where job openings are most plentiful. And  many workers may still have lingering fears"

"the quits rate, or quits as a share of total employment is at its highest level since 2001. But fewer people are leaving their jobs for other reasons, pushing the churn rate lower. For companies, the low churn rate has been both good and bad. The good part is that it makes it easier to retain the employees"

"The bad part, which mostly affects companies looking to expand their workforce, is that it can be hard to hire people without offering them strong incentives to do so."

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