There Are 3 Unemployed Workers Competing for Each Job Opening
1:45 pm, July 11th | by Colette McIntyre
On Friday we shared the Bureau of Statistics’ latest data on unemployment that seemed to suggest that things were kinda-sorta-okay, kinda: the annual report showed that the economy had added 195,000 new jobs, exceeded expectations, and that the unemployment rate was unchanged. (Unchanged is better than increased, right?) Yet, according to the Bureau’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey released Tuesday, we may have celebrated too soon. The new numbers reveal that job seekers are facing some of the worst odds in more than a decade.
The JOLTS report shows that that are 11.8 million Americans actively searching for work. Considering that there were only 3.8 million job openings in the U.S. in May (up from the 2.3 million during the worst of the recession), that means that there are 3.1 unemployed persons competing for every one job.
The report also found that there isn’t a lot of “churn” in the labor market now, meaning that people aren’t leaving their positions as much as they should be. The total number of workers being hired each month and the total of workers leaving their jobs each month are both lower than pre-recession numbers by about 1 million. Just 1.6 percent of workers, or 2.2 million people, left their jobs in May, as compared to 2.2 percent quit rate before the recession.
“The reason there is less churn today is that jobs are so scare that employed workers are much less likely to quit the job they have,” writes Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. She adds that even after four years of recovery, the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings is worse now than when the 2001 recession was at its peak.