The March Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows job openings fell slightly in March to 3.8 million, a decrease of 55,000 since February. While job openings are similar to where they were about five years ago as the economy was on the downswing of the recession, the number of job seekers is still much higher. In March, the number of job seekers, which fell by 290,000 from February, stood at 11.7 million. The “job-seekers ratio”—the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings—held steady in March at 3.1-to-1.
In her analysis, EPI economist Elise Gould notes that hires also fell in March, decreasing by 192,000 to under 4.3 million. Unlike job openings, hires are still below their early 2012 levels. At the same time, layoffs increased by 121,000 in March to nearly 1.7 million. While layoffs are not currently the primary concern in the labor market (having been at prerecession levels for more than two years), an increased number of layoffs is not good news. Furthermore, the consequences to workers of being laid off are far worse now than before the recession began; they are less likely to find a new job within a reasonable timeframe, particularly one that pays as much as the job lost.