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Job Openings Worse in 2009-10 Than Reported

May 16, 2011 by Joshua Wright


Mike Konczal, in this post at New Deal 2.0, reports on the new Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, and the downward revisions made to the previous numbers for 2009 and 2010.

The new data poses problems for proponents of structural unemployment (for more on this, see this article). To review — job openings were showing pronounced growth in the old datasets, but unemployment rates remained high. This caused some economists to propose that the economy was starting to improve, but structural factors were getting in the way of businesses hiring workers. Among the structural factors were mismatches between the education required in the job opening and the education of the unemployed workforce, the location of the job opening and the inability of the unemployed to move to the location of the the job, etc.

With a revision down of the job openings numbers, the numbers, according to Konczal, now show that:

On average, there were 172,000 fewer job openings per month in 2009 and 235,000 fewer job opening per month in 2010, reducing the job opening rate by an average of 0.18% over 2010 than had previously been reported. A quick and simple analysis shows that this BLS correction would have dropped estimates of increases in the NAIRU at the time from 1.3% to 1.0%.


(…s)ince April 2010, when concerns about structural unemployment started to enter the debate, the Beveridge curve has almost entirely shifted leftward, with unemployment down roughly 1% and job openings up a meager 0.1%. Runaway unfilled job openings haven’t shown up in the data.

The higher job openings were also a sign for some that businesses were becoming more confident in short-term economic growth that would require more hiring; these revisions are a belated revelation that firms were not as confident as they seemed.

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