Ratio of Job Seekers Remains Extremely Elevated—No Time to Cut Unemployment Benefits

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the ratio of job seekers to job openings remained unchanged in October at 2.9-to-1, which is equal to the worst month of the early 2000s downturn. A ratio of 2.9-to-1 means that for nearly two out of every three job seekers, there are no jobs available, no matter what they do.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which has provided support to millions of Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own during the Great Recession and its aftermath, should not be allowed to expire on December 28, 2013, as it is set to do. Allowing these benefits to expire would cut a crucial lifeline to millions of unemployed workers and their families at a time when job opportunities remain historically weak.


  • tmo77

    Can you explain how you got the 2.9-to-1 ratio? I see the job openings number but I don’t see anything on the number of job seekers.

  • benleet

    Number looking for work is either 11.3 million or 16.9 million. The BLS link says there were 3.9 million job openings, and times 2.9 that number is number of workers looking for work, 11.3 million. EPI also has new “missing workers” web page: http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/#chart-total. It says in October there were 5.66 million missing workers, for a total of 16.96 million. Therefore, there are 4.3 workers for every job opening. One job for every four looking. I averaged the Labor Force Participation Rate for years 1988 to 2008, it was 66.5%. Using that LFPR unemployment is 12.0%. Here’s a curious fact, comparing 2 periods of 5 years, from Jan. 1995 to Jan 2000 the Labor Force grew by 10.5 million. In the past 5 years it has shrunk by 1.3 million. What if it had grown by 10.5, what would unemployment rate be? 13.3% It’s a bit of waste of time, but it shows how severe the unemployment is.