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Posts tagged with: "JTSJOL"

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Jolts in the labor market: It’s harder to hire

Average time to fill an open job rose from 20 to 50 days

It should be no surprise that the job market has had some ups and downs during this pandemic, and one related measure is how long it has taken to fill an open position. FRED, with the help of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), gives us the tools to look into this.

JOLTS, among other things, provides monthly data on the number of job openings and how many openings have been filled during that month. A simple ratio of these two numbers tells us how many months it takes to fill an open position, on average.* And that’s exactly what we show in the FRED graph above. For example, in early 2011 (the start of this data series), it was taking less than a month to fill an open position.

The pandemic created special circumstances: First, job openings dropped like a stone, so these few remaining open positions could be filled quickly. Soon, conditions reverted. And now we’re in a situation where there are many openings and relatively few of them are being filled. In a matter of months, the time to fill an open position went from 20 days to 50 days, which may go higher still.

*A ratio of 1 means open jobs are filled within a month, on average. A higher ratio means it takes longer.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “job openings” and use the non-farm series. From the “Edit Graph” panel, add a series by searching for “hires.” Finally, apply formula a/b.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: JTSHIL, JTSJOL

Job JOLTS: How long does it take to hire someone?

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

View on FRED, series used in this post: JTSHIL, JTSJOL

Seeking, missing, finding, and filling jobs

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.

View on FRED, series used in this post: JTSHIL, JTSJOL, UNEMPLOY

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