Economic Snapshot | Jobs and Unemployment

Unemployed far outnumber job openings in every sector

The figure below shows the number of unemployed workers and the number of job openings by sector. Unemployed workers far outnumber job openings in every sector, underscoring the fact that the main cause of today’s persistent high unemployment is a broad-based lack of demand for workers—and not, as is often claimed, available workers lacking the skills needed for the sectors with job openings.

LAST WEEK’S SNAPSHOT: Unemployment rates by educational attainment

Construction is the sector with the most unemployed workers for every available job, while manufacturing has the second-most number of unemployed workers for every available job, belying recent claims of worker shortages in construction and manufacturing. The education and health services sector has the most favorable ratio of unemployed to job openings, but even it has over 80 percent more unemployed workers than job openings. These data show that the main problem in today’s labor market is not a lack of the right workers for the jobs that are available; it’s that employers do not have enough work to be done to need to hire more workers.

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