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Friday, May 22, 2009

Ratio of Job Openings to Displaced Workers Casts Stark Light on Unemployment Picture

In an analysis released last week of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute presented figures that cast a stark light on the condition of the U.S. job market from a seldom-reported perspective.

The analysis was based on data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report from the BLS.

By comparing the number of job openings reported for March of 2.7 million to the 13.2 million workers reported as unemployed for the same month, Shierholz calculated a ratio of nearly five unemployed workers for every available job.

As if that number weren’t staggering enough on its own, Shierholz added further perspective by comparing that figure to the ratio of 1.7 unemployed workers for each job opening as of the start of the current recession, or 1.1 per opening in December 2000, the date that the BLS first released JOLTS data.

Anticipating the release of April figures in the context of already-reported jobless figures for April, Shierholz projects that the April ratio will remain at five or higher. This creates a sobering view an unemployment picture that, in spite of increasing reports of “green shoots” in the economy, remains at crisis levels and is showing, at best, signs of improvement at only a very slow pace.

“There are still millions of jobless workers with little hope of finding employment in this dramatically weakened labor market,” Shierholz wrote in the close of her analysis, which I believe adds further weight to the proposition that the Obama administration’s economic interventions, as I have argued previously, may not yet be sufficient to truly address the human costs of an unemployment crisis of this magnitude. Sphere: Related Content

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