Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

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Snapshot for September 17, 2008.

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by Heidi Shierholz

In July, there were 8.8 million unemployed workers actively seeking jobs in the United States, but only 3.4 million job openings, according to data released last week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In other words, there were an average of 2.6 job seekers for every available job—an increase of over 60% from the low point in the 2000s expansion a year and a half ago, when there were just 1.6 job seekers for every job opening (see chart).1 There are now 5.4 million more job seekers than job openings in this country, meaning that millions of dedicated, productive American workers are experiencing the hardship and insecurity of unemployment with little hope of finding a job. The job openings data represent one more strong indicator of the need for a second stimulus package that is targeted directly at job creation.

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See also this companion Issue Brief from Heidi Shierholz.

1. Job openings data are collected for nonfarm industries only, while unemployment data include unemployed agricultural workers. However, since unemployed agricultural workers make up less than 1.5% of unemployed workers in recent years, this discrepancy does not affect our results.

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