For the first time on record, there are more job openings than official job seekers
U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed a record 6.7 million available jobs in the United States during the month of April. BLS data showed also 6.3 million job seekers in April and 6.1 million job seekers during the month of May, resulting in the first time since unemployment figures have been collected that there were more job openings available than job seekers.
While the official U-3 unemployment rate is not a perfect measure of labor market health, these data are a remarkable testament to how tight the labor market is right now. A recent study by Glassdoor showed that more than 75% of HR hiring managers say finding skilled talent is their number one challenge. At the height of the recession in 2009, there were more than 6 job seekers for every job opening – now that ratio is below 1.
So what does this mean for our regional labor market? More than ever, this is the time to actively and strategically build regional partnerships with our business, education, workforce and economic development communities to tackle this problem collectively. We need to focus on developing college and career ready high school graduates. We need to rapidly up-skill displaced workers and give them demand-driven skills, certifications and credentials to compete for high-paying jobs. We need to double down our investments for underserved populations that have barriers to employment, such as formerly incarcerated individuals. We need to recognize that this labor market shortage is not going to be fixed overnight – we must invest now, for the long-term, in skills, training and education to drive our region’s economy forward.