Bloomberg News recently suggested firms may be struggling to find qualified employees. The FRED graph above does show that, for the past year, the number of job openings in the U.S. has generally been higher than the number of hires. So, yes, some positions aren’t being filled. Also, the level of unemployment has been steadily decreasing since 2010, even though the BLS reports that the unemployment rate hardly fell from August to April of this year.
Civilian unemployment rate = (Unemployment level / Civilian labor force) * 100
As the equation shows, for the unemployment rate to hold steady and, at the same time, for the unemployment level to decrease, the labor force must also decrease. So, while fewer “unemployed” people might be taken at face value to mean more people are finding jobs, keep in mind that some people may have simply stopped looking for a job and left the labor force. And firms may not be finding their ideal applicants among the unemployed.
On the other hand, the unemployed may not be looking for the right jobs. For more insight into the current employment situation, visit FRASER (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research) for the Employment Situation—May 2016. This and previous reports from the BLS tally which industries have added or cut jobs in that particular period—potentially useful information for those who want to know which industries are potentially looking to hire. In FRASER, you can explore plenty of interesting publications on employment throughout history. Happy hunting!
How this graph was created: Search for “unemployment level” and select the seasonally adjusted series and click “Add to Graph.” Adjust the timeline to start at January 2007. Add the next series by searching for “hires” and choosing the total nonfarm seasonally adjusted monthly series with level in thousands for units. Add the last series by searching for “job openings” and again choosing the total nonfarm series.
Suggested by Emily Furlow.