US Labor Market Shows Signs Of Recovery

Christel Deskins

Number of unemployed persons per job opening in the United States, seasonally adjusted Photo: Statista/IBT While the number of weekly jobless claims has been stalling for the past couple of weeks, the U.S. job market is still showing signs of recovery. The number of job openings, reported by the Bureau of […]

20200911_IBT_LaborDemand Number of unemployed persons per job opening in the United States, seasonally adjusted Photo: Statista/IBT

While the number of weekly jobless claims has been stalling for the past couple of weeks, the U.S. job market is still showing signs of recovery. The number of job openings, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this week, exceeded expectations in July, climbing to 6.6 million by the end of the month versus forecasts of 6 million. Meanwhile total nonfarm employment grew from 130 million in April to 141 million in August, recovering roughly half the jobs lost during the lockdown period.

Despite the increase in job openings and the gradual decline in unemployment, the number of jobless people still exceeds unfilled positions by a wide margin. According to the BLS’ latest employment situation summary, 16.3 million Americans were unemployed at the end of July vs. 6.6 million job openings.

As the following chart shows, the ratio of unemployed persons per job opening now stands at 2.5, down from 4.6 in April. Prior to the pandemic, the number of job openings had exceeded the level of unemployment since March 2018, indicating high demand for labor following a long recovery from the financial crisis. In July 2009, the number of unemployed persons per unfilled position had peaked at 6.4, mainly due to a collapse of job openings.

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