Unemployment v. job openings: equal but opposite forces

The latest data indicates that job hires and total job separations are both occurring at a rate of 3.4 percent of the total employment, leading to a flattening of the unemployment rate.


Looking deeper at today’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover report you can see that while the unemployment rate is showing notable initial signs of establishing a peak, the job openings rate is showing an equal but opposite troughing dynamic.

This may lead some to conclude that the worst is over for the current severe bout of unemployment but a look at the total job separation rate versus total job hires rate may leave one with a more skeptical outlook.

The latest data indicates that job hires are occurring at a rate of 3.4% of the total employment while total job separations are also occurring at a rate of 3.4%.

So, currently separations are canceling out hires thus resulting, more or less, in a flattening of the unemployment rate.

This would indicate that, at the moment, structural unemployment is a very real and important dynamic with the economy only churning out just enough jobs to replace the current lost jobs leaving the current large unemployed population effectively at the same level.

This data should be watched very closely in future months as any significant increase in the rate of job openings and/or positive spread between the job hires rate and total separations rate will indicate a healing of the job market while the opposite would indicate continued structural unemployment.

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