Carpe Diem

Chart of the day: Job seekers per opening falls to 4-year low

In a sign that the labor market is gradually improving, the number of unemployed persons per job opening declined to 3.28 in November, the lowest level in slightly more than four years going back to October 2008. At the end of the recession there were more than twice as many job seekers per opening, at 6.68 in July 2009.

Still, as the WSJ points out today (a similar chart is featured on the paper’s front page) the current number of job seekers per opening is about twice what it was before the recession started, so we’ll need some additional improvements in the labor market to return to pre-recession levels. If we get 2.5-3.0% real GDP growth and a 15% rally in stocks this year, as predicted by Brian Wesbury and Bob Stein (winners of Market Watch’s “Forecaster of the Month” Award for December 2012), we can expect the labor market to gradually improve and we’ll see ongoing  declines in the number of job seekers per opening through the year.

23 thoughts on “Chart of the day: Job seekers per opening falls to 4-year low

  1. a question-

    when they say “unemployed people per job opening”, just what are they using as an “unemployed people” metric?

    u3?

    if so, then this metric would seem to have some issues.

    if people who drop out of the job market because they are “discouraged” drop out of the ranks of the unemployed (as they do in u3) then it becomes less clear just what we would be measuring here.

    it could be an indication of a high number of discouraged workers as opposed to an improving job market or, most likely, some of each.

        • i’m not sure that means what you are suggesting.

          u3 is for 16 and older too.

          that 12,206 number looks much to low to be all those not working over 16.

          it’s the same number as unemployed used in u3.

          http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

          so this is based on u3 which means that the above series of jobs/unemployed does suffer from the potential issue of showing an decrease due to an increase in discouraged workers falling out of the labor force which has been the primary driver of the drop in u3 lately.

          civilian non institutional population is up 4 million from a year ago but the workforce is only up 1.5 million. 2.5 million folks fell out of this dataset by “no longer looking for work”. that seems like it would skew this number a great deal.

  2. … and just what are those job openings for… low paying unskilled service jobs for the most part… we don’t need any more wallmarts we need jobs that make the stuff that wallmart sells!

    • low paying unskilled service jobs for the most part…

      Incorrect. Manufacturing, for the most part. Retail, sure, but mostly manufacturing and engineering.

    • Also, Median Income has been steadily rising (minus the recessionary period). That suggests that either more hires are getting paid above the old median, or that the low-end is being laid-off. I doubt the second option considering we’ve had 28 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. Of course, there is churning, there is always churn.

    • And one final thing I just want to poke a little fun at (no offense intended):

      we don’t need any more wallmarts

      Well, if we didn’t need them, then we wouldn’t be hiring them, now would we?

  3. Shouldn’t that read, “the number of unemployed persons per government job opening”?:

    “Seventy-three percent of the new civilian jobs created in the United States over the last five months are in government, according to official data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. …” CNS News

    • False. Government payrolls the past 5 months:
      ————————————————–
      2012-12: 21,925 Thousands of Persons
      2012-11: 21,938
      2012-10: 21,948
      2012-09: 22,014
      2012-08: 22,004
      —————–
      That’s a decrease of 79,000.

      Total employment over the same time period has been:
      ————————————————–
      2012-12: 134,021 Thousands of Persons
      2012-11: 133,866
      2012-10: 133,705
      2012-09: 133,568
      2012-08: 133,436
      ——————-
      Which is an increase of 585,000.

      So not only has government employment not accounted for 73% of job creation over the past 5 months, it has actually *declined* while total employment has risen more than a half million.

      But don’t let facts get in the way of a good argument.

      • Futhermore, if you look at the household survey you get:

        Total Civilian Employment
        —————————
        2012-12: 143,305 Thousands of Persons
        2012-11: 143,277
        2012-10: 143,328
        2012-09: 142,974
        2012-08: 142,164
        ——————–
        That’s an increase of 1,141,000.

        Government employment in the household survey is thus:
        —————————
        2012-12: 20,686 Thousands of Persons
        2012-11: 20,598
        2012-10: 20,555
        2012-09: 20,647
        2012-08: 20,411
        ——————–
        That’s an increase of 275,000. Which is 24.1% of the total 1,141,000 – not even close to 73%.

        So both the establishment survey and the household survey show nothing close to 73% of new jobs created in the past 5 months being government jobs. Your source is misleading you.

        • Actually, it’s not clear that your data disproves the CNS claim. They are talking about “new jobs created” during the specified period, and you are looking at total government employment / civilian employment. Apples to oranges.

          It would be possible for the government to both reduce their overall payroll – say by cutting the Armed Forces – while creating the most “new jobs” by adding to the federal bureaucracy (all those IRS agents needed to implement Obamacare).

          • The increases of 585,000 in the establishment survey and 1,141,000 in the household survey *are* new jobs. Those two numbers are the net additions of jobs over 5 months, thus, “new” jobs. So yes, it’s apples-to-apples and your source is still misleading.

          • Employment Level – Civilian Labor Force: Source: BLS LNS12000000

            June 2012 – 142448
            November 2012 – 143277

            An increase of 829,000

            Government wage and salary workers: Source: BLS LNS12032188

            June 2012 – 19995
            November 2012 – 20598

            An increase of 603,000

            Government employees represent 72.7 percent of the increase.

            But don’t let facts get in the way of a good argument.

          • Interesting, how all of that government hiring took place in the five months leading up to the election.

            It’s probably nothing.

            Forward.

  4. Looks like an across-the-board set of averages, not looking at job sectors or locations. Low-paying or entry-level jobs mean nothing if you are trying to get back to something close to an experienced professional level position. Competition is still pretty fierce for those!

    I was actually told by an HR person from a former company that they weren’t interested in hiring back any of the laid-off former workers because they were older, more experienced (more expensive), and would be retiring sooner, even though they were looking to hire more engineers again. I wish I’d recorded that!

    Of course, you now have the question as to just who is going to TRAIN all these new workers, because they’d managed to get rid of most of the ones who actually knew what they were doing… I strongly suspect the loss in productivity and the increased number of very expensive mistakes made because the newbies don’t know any better costs more than paying for “experience.” Some of those automotive recalls look like they’re caused by these kinds of mistakes.

    But the “hiring” numbers look great to anyone outside. If I were a stockholder, I’d want to take a good long look at these kinds of hiring practices and what they actually mean.

  5. I see. So we use 6 months instead of the advertised 5 months, and then shift the time frame back one month to end in November, in order to capture one month which had an unusually high amount of government jobs creation, in order to make one’s point. Your statistic, as of December, is already obsolete.

    • Actually, it was you who shifted the time frame, read the article.

      I just hate when they use actual BLS data to mislead us all – bastards.

      One more thing, should we count all of those “green jobs” that were created in the “private sector” as government jobs? If not, why not?

  6. “Long term unemployment under President Obama is at the highest level since at least the end of World War II, threatening to create a permanent underclass of workers who will find it difficult or impossible to obtain jobs in the future. What’s more, Obama’s insistence on repeatedly extending long term unemployment benefits may be fueling the unemployment problem.

    According to data recently released by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the average duration of unemployment is now at about 40 weeks, double the previous highest level of about 20 weeks that prevailed during the last three recessions.” — Keith Koffler

    Change we can believe in.

  7. Gotta lover that change!

    Peter Ferrara at Forbes, 0/11/2012: Indeed, the working age population has increased by 8.4 million since President Obama entered office. With the same labor force participation as on Inauguration Day in January, 2009 (which would be closer to a real recovery), that would require 5.5 million new jobs just to keep up with the aforementioned population growth. But a generous reading of the data is that during President Obama’s entire term in office, a grand total of only 787,000 jobs have been created overall on net. And all of that net growth came in the last month. As of August, 2012, the economy was still suffering a net loss of jobs during Obama’s entire Presidency up to that point.

  8. These numbers are contorted by design. This is lying at in its highest form. Take into account that the Civilian Labor Force data put out by the BLS has been manipulated to show that it is “flat” since 2008. That means the U3 number is an absolute lie and is being kept ARTIFICIALLY low. The U3 number had the CLF value been allowed to track population growth would show that we stand at an unemployment rate of 11% and that is an improvement. The only way the CLF goes ‘flat’ is if millions of US workers are suddenly incarcerated or they DIE. Our population is still growing, we are still graduating students into a work environment where they cannot find jobs, the number of ‘discouraged’ workers are increasing not holding steady and we just injected 1.8 million illegal aliens into the work force without the job growth to accomodate them. Then we can talk about job quality, because 2/3 of all new jobs since 2008 went to illegal and legal aliens, not US citizens. Furthermore, the jobs created are not high quality, high pay jobs. Those went to China.

    Any one who believes this rosy picture has a very big bridge on delivery.

    By the way in the tech and engineering industry it is 600 unemployed workers per job opening, not 6. This was information given to me by a hiring manager at a company I was seeking employment with in 2006 and I have no doubt that it is worse today.

    In-flippen-credible.

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