NPR logo Jobless-To-Jobs Ratio Rose In November: Gov't


Jobless-To-Jobs Ratio Rose In November: Gov't

There were 15.3 million unemployed workers for 2.4 million jobs in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.

That means there were about 6.4 unemployed people per job opening in November which was up from the 6.1 such jobless persons per vacancy in October.

On the face of it, it's certainly bad news that there were somewhat more unemployed vying for each job than was true a month earlier.

But there was some good news embedded in the data, according to Heidi Shierholz of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. It wasn't unalloyed positive news, however.

An excerpt from her analysis:

Fortunately, the number of job openings appears to be stabilizing in recent months. In the first quarter of 2009, job openings declined an average of 197,000 per month, but in the latest six months the trend was basically flat (declining 18,000 per month, on average). For the labor market to recover, however, it must start seeing substantial increases in job openings. There is considerable ground to make up: in 2007 before the recession hit, there was an average 4.6 million job openings per month compared to just half that number in November 2009 at 2.4 million.

To absorb the over 15 million officially unemployed workers in this country, plus the nearly 2.5 million "marginally attached" workers (jobless workers who want a job but have given up actively seeking work and are therefore not counted as officially unemployed), job openings and hiring must rebound dramatically. This report offers no indication that such a rebound is happening—instead it adds to existing overwhelming evidence that it is time for substantial additional government action to revive the labor market.

"It is time for substantial additional government action" sounds like a call for additional economic stimulus. But there's very little appetite for more stimulus on Capitol Hill.