The Hidden Job Market is Alive and Well — and That’s Not Good News!

data point tuesday_500

Last week I wrote about matching the number of job openings to the number of unemployed people by industry. The numbers were arresting. I used data from the Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz.

In that post, Unemployed Workers Still Far Outnumber Job Openings in Every Major Sector, Shierholz provided this graph showing the Job-Seekers ratio from December 2000 through April 2013 based on data from the BLS JOLTS Survey and Current Population Survey:

Not enough jobs to go around June 2013

This is an incredible view of the last 13 years. The Jobs-to-Seekers ratio in December 2000 was 1 to 1.1:  pretty much full employment. The unemployment rate that month was 3.9%, which means that even people who didn’t want to work were working.

As I read the data, though, it looks a little odd:  the CPS (Current Population Survey) and the JOLTS Survey together show that in April while there were 3,737,000 reported job openings, 4,425,000 workers were hired and 4,279,000 workers were separated for a net employment increase of 146,000. Which means that  688,000 more workers were hired than there were job openings. Even if these April hires were from the March job openings (3,875,000), there were still 550,000 more hires than openings.

So the hidden job market must be alive and well if we’re hiring more than half-a-million more workers than there are reported openings. Think about that. And think about the reported skills shortages. And think about the difference between structural and cyclical unemployment (which I wrote about here).

The reason our unemployment rate continues to stay at an unacceptable and economy-stopping 7%+ may not be so related to the lack of new job creation – we appear to be filling more than the reported number of job openings every month! – but to the scarcity of specific skills and talent. So maybe the skills gap is real and the 9,000,000+ workers who are unemployed will stay that way until they acquire new skills or further lower their job targets.

Either way, that’s not good news for employers with openings they can’t fill, workers who can’t find jobs for the skills they have, or our economy which can’t get out of 2nd gear.

The hidden job market is very much alive. Too bad that’s not good news.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Hidden Job Market, HR Data, Job Creation, Structural Unemployment, Unemployment Rate

2 responses to “The Hidden Job Market is Alive and Well — and That’s Not Good News!

  1. Great blog post. Its useful information.

  2. China,

    The data here is really interesting.

    Have you considered that the US, like Australia or the UK might be hitting peak jobs rather than a skills peak?

    I have done a lot of work on similar data via the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) and ONS (Office of National Statistics – UK) so might be worthwhile spending some time reviewing Heidi’s numbers vis-à-vis BLS et al.

    Let me do some workups and see if I cant convince you to do a ‘Data Point Tuesday’ on US peak employment.

    Shane

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s