The April Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a labor market that is just holding steady. In her analysis, EPI economist Heidi Shierholz explains that if job opportunities were really ramping up, the rate of hires and quits would have risen, but neither of these measures has made any sustained improvement in the last half year. There are more than 10 percent fewer hires each month than there were before the recession began, and the rate of hires has in fact seen no sustained improvement since last August. Further, voluntary quits, while slowly improving, are also nowhere near a full recovery. There are more than 15 percent fewer voluntary quits each month than there were before the recession began, and the quit rate has seen no sustained improvement since last October. Low voluntary quits indicate that there are a huge number of workers who are locked into jobs that they would leave if they could.
The total number of job openings in April was 4.5 million, up from 4.2 million in March. In April, there were 9.8 million job seekers (unemployment data are from the Current Population Survey), meaning that there were 2.2 times as many job seekers as job openings.