All About Jobs, 1: Five Uneasy Pieces

Alan Greenspan used to say that the fears concerning skill obsolescence & the corporate restructuring that took hold in the 1980s & 1990s had changed worker psychology. In this series we examine 5 pieces of underlying evidence.

First up: Job Openings

In the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data, for July, job openings and hires were mostly unchanged from June, though manufacturing showed a nice uptick in both, as did accommodations and food services. Separations were little changed.

Monthly changes can be distracting, so here’s a longer look at the openings component. At 4.7% of employment in July, private sector openings are at the high for the series, and July’s high matches April and June’s. The high before these recent numbers was the 4.2% in January 2001, as the late-1990s boom was unwinding, all visible on this graph.

Openings look great, but what do they really mean? Well, for that, please see All About Jobs, 2: Should the unemployment rate actually be lower?