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News from EPI Low Level of Job Openings Continues to Thwart Employment for Many Job Seekers

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The July Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data, released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows job openings remain very depressed falling by 180,000 to 3.7 million. In 2007, there were 4.5 million job openings each month, which means July’s level of 3.7 million is more than 17 percent below its prerecession level.  In July, the total number of job seekers, which declined by 263,000 from June, was 11.5 million (unemployment data are from the Current Population Survey and can be found here). The “job-seekers ratio”—the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings—slightly increased in July to 3.1-to-1.

In her analysis, EPI economist Elise Gould notes that a job opening means something different in a strong labor market than it does in a weak one. If a company is trying hard to fill an opening, they may, for example, increase the compensation package and/or scale back the required qualifications. If they are not trying very hard, they may, conversely, hike up the required qualifications and/or offer a meager compensation package. “When a job opening goes unfilled when the labor market is weak like it is today, it may very well be due to the company holding out for an overly qualified candidate at a very cheap price,” said Gould.