Economic snapshot | Jobs and Unemployment

More job seekers, fewer jobs

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by Tobin Marcus

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the October Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data, which indicates that there were only 3.1 million job openings in the economy, down nearly 25% from the start of the recession in December 2007.While that’s bad, what makes matters worse is that this rapid decline in job openings has been accompanied by a sharp increase in unemployment. In October 2008 the number of job seekers topped 10 million, more than three times the number of jobs available. The acceleration has been startling: the number of job seekers per opening has skyrocketed from 1.9 at the beginning of this recession to 3.3 less than a year later in October 2008. The rapid increase in this ratio clearly indicates the weakness of the current labor market and the difficulty that workers are having finding jobs. Unfortunately, this ratio will likely continue to worsen for the forseeable future, given that in November unemployment increased by another 250,000 jobs.
JOLTS chart 12/08


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