Stop Unemployment

Job openings outpace number of unemployed

There were more job openings in the U.S. this spring than there were people looking for work, a troubling trend that is likely to force employers to rethink their approach to hiring.

April marked the second month in a row this occurred, and the gap was growing. According to the federal Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, there were about 6.7 million open positions in April, the most recent month for which data are available.

At the same time, the total number of workers looking and eligible for jobs in April fell to 6.35 million. The number fell further in May to 6.06 million, although there is no comparable JOLTS data for that month.

Employers have struggled for some time to find workers with the right training for the positions available. As the demand for labor grows, workers have gotten more confident about leaving their current positions for better ones.

Just when things might turn around is impossible to tell. A big factor influencing the trend is our aging workforce. While the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8 percent, the level of those leaving the workforce has surged. The total of those counted as not in the labor force is now at a record 95.9 million, a 21 percent rise over the past decade.

The tight labor market has already prompted many employers to reconsider their hiring practices.

The biggest shifts? Employers are now hiring workers with lower levels of education than they might have a year or two ago. They’re also spending more time and money on training programs.

There is some good news for employers: A broader measure of unemployment, which includes workers who haven’t looked for a job in the last four months and also those working part-time even though they’d rather work full-time, is still higher than it was in the late 2000s. That means there may still be workers on the sidelines ready to take opportunities that might present themselves.

About the Author

Will Temby

Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.