A Milestone in Employment Opportunities
Every month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases a report of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey aka "JOLTS." It usually comes out a week or so after the widely-followed "Employment Situation" report but because it covers data for the month before that report, it is not a report that usually moves markets or excites analysts. That is a mistake!
In their May 8 JOLTS report, the BLS told us that as of March 30 there were 6,550,000 unfilled job openings across the US on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was the highest number recorded in the history of this series, which began in December 2000.
The chart shows this unprecedented number and the complete history of the series along with the total number of unemployed people--or at least those looking for jobs. In March, there were 6,585,000 people who were unemployed and looking for work.
As the chart clearly indicates, if we just had a system for matching unemployed people to available jobs we could reduce the unemployment rate effectively to zero percent. Wouldn't that be amazing?
The JOLTS report also showed that in the twelve months ended in March 2018, there were 65,700,000 hires made. In the same twelve months there were 63,400,000 separations from employment. This means that human resources people had to process 129,100,000 hirings and separations in order to get a net increase of 2,300,000 jobs over the twelve months ending in March. That is hard evidence that human resources people have enormous job security.
The Conference Board, a 102-year old research institution headquartered in New York City, has been surveying consumers since 1967. They ask consumers every month whether they think jobs are hard to get or plentiful. The following chart shows that the proportion responding "plentiful" is the highest since the boom years before 2000 ("the Y2K Boom"). This fits totally with the evidence from JOLTS.