February 9, 2021

The  Labor Department reported that job openings rose 1.1% in December to 6,646 thousand after declining 0.9% in November   As more and more businesses reopen and the corona virus gets under better control from the vaccines  the economic expansion will gather momentum, the number of job openings will continue to climb, and the unemployment rate will steadily decline.

As shown in the chart below, there are currently 1.6 unemployed workers for every available job.  Prior to the recession this rate was steady at about 0.8.  Thus, the labor market continues to improve, but it still not back to its pre-recession degree of tightness.

The Labor Department also provides information on hires each month.  Hires fell 6.5% in December to 5,539 thousand after having risen 1.3% November.  Thus, the rate of hiring slipped from  4.2 to 3.9  The rate of job openings was 4.5.  Thus, job openings were 15.4% higher than hires which suggests that employment should continue to climb in the months ahead.  Prior to the recession job openings were  15-20% higher than hires which was a reflection of the very tight labor market that existed at that time.

.Stephen Slifer


Charleston, SC