The JOLTS release in FRED (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) offers a wealth of information about the U.S. labor market, including transitions in and out of employment. The data on job openings are actually very difficult to obtain because employers don’t necessarily advertise or register job openings, so the JOLTS release is especially useful. In the graph above, we use the data to compute a particular ratio, dividing job openings by hires. Usually it’s not recommended to compare “stocks” (job openings) and “flows” (hires). In this case, however, it has a meaning: A ratio of 1 means that it takes 1 month for a job opening to be filled; a higher ratio means it takes longer. It seems this ratio has never been above 1 except for now, which could be a sign that employers are finding it more difficult than any time since 2001 to hire people.
How this graph was created: Search for “job openings” and select the total non-farm series. Then select the edit graph feature: Use the “Edit line 1” tab to add a series by searching for “hires.” Finally, apply the formula a/b.
Suggested by Christian Zimmermann