Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Generally Positive Jolt

BLS just released its preliminary December figure for job openings (from its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey—JOLTS), and the news is good: 258,000 more vacancies.  Combined with previously reported unemployment data, the unemployment to vacancy ratio dipped noticeably from 4.3 to 3.9.  Here is how the ratio looks from the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2011:

Unemployment-to-Vacancy Ratio, 2008-2011
If the decline keeps to the trend it has established since the cyclical peak of 6.9 of July 2009, in another 18 months we’ll be back down to two workers looking for work for every job opening.  This is still above the ratio most economists would prefer (about one-and-a-half to one), but it’s not bad.  There is a big proviso, however: the unemployment numbers do not count the large number of workers who have apparently withdrawn from the (pathetic) labor market.  And, of course, there is no guarantee at all that this trend will stay on course.


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