Job Openings vs. Job Seekers

Alexia Fernández Campbell points out today that there are more job openings than there are unemployed to take them, something that’s been true for the past year and a half. Just to provide a slightly different perspective, however, here’s a chart that shows job openings vs. a broader measure of unemployment:

The orange line is the U6 unemployment level, which includes those who are “marginally attached” to the labor force as well as those who are working part-time for economic reasons. There are still more of these folks out there than there are job openings for them.

Part of the U6 pool encompasses the least skilled workers, who employers will be loath to hire even if they’re desperate. Another part of the pool, however, are people who are on the fence about wanting a job and who can be lured into the labor force with higher pay. In other words, if employers are willing to pay more there’s still some headroom for the economy to grow.

That said, there’s no question that both trendlines started to flatten out a couple of years ago. Employers aren’t generating new job openings and the U6 crowd is no longer being drawn back into the labor force in large numbers. This suggests that employers aren’t especially bullish about future demand for their products continuing to increase.


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