The bizarre phenomenon of a messed up job market
Job opportunities in manufacturing and other sectors hit record as companies struggle to hire while 16.2 million people still claim unemployment benefits.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
The US labor market has been troubled by a strange phenomenon: 9.8 million people are considered officially “unemployed” and 16.2 million people are still claiming federal or federal unemployment compensation, including the additional $ 300 per week in federal benefits which allow many people to earn more money from unemployment benefits than by working At the same time, there are reports that job seekers have abandoned job offers employment, that companies complain of “labor shortages” and that today unfilled vacancies have increased historically.
Job postings hit their highest level ever, at 8.12 million openings in March, seasonally adjusted – and 8.24 million openings not seasonally adjusted – on Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Compared to March 2019, the last March of the Good Times, job vacancies have increased by 13%:
In the manufacturing sector, unfilled job vacancies exploded in March amid a widespread chorus among manufacturers struggling to hire the people needed to meet the growing demand for their products which was spurred by stimulus payments.
Manufacturing jobs are not low-wage jobs. And this difficulty in filling jobs comes after two decades of valid complaints that too much manufacturing activity has been outsourced to cheap countries.
Manufacturing jobs increased in March from a huge all-time high of 134.00 jobs since February, to a record 706,000 job openings:
Compare jobs to the number of people currently working in manufacturing – the jobs manufacturers could actually fill – which fell in April to 12.2 million people, according to the BLS employment report. Compared to February 2020, the last month of The Good Times, that figure was 515,000 workers. And yet, there are 706,000 unfilled jobs, which, if they were all filled, would take manufacturing employment to new heights not seen since 2008:
Jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector – about 75% of which are in food services and drinking places – hit an all-time high of 1.21 million in March (seasonally adjusted) and increased by 18% compared to March 2019:
Jobs in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry have soared historically over the past two months to 215,000 unfilled jobs, more than double openings in March 2019:
In education and health services, job vacancies fell in March from the all-time high in February, but remained the second highest on record with 1.43 million openings , and up 4.3% compared to March 2019:
In the retail sector, job vacancies climbed to 878,000, but that figure was down 15% from 2018 highs. This includes booming new and used vehicle dealerships, as well as than grocery stores and other fast-growing retail segments. But mall retailing, to the extent that it still exists, has been avoided by e-commerce and is struggling to cope with the decline, and the pandemic has accelerated the process that began many years ago. .
Construction jobs in March rose to 344,000 openings, roughly at the level of March 2019.
In professional and commercial services In the industry, vacancies hit a record high in December, barely surpassing the previous record set in March 2016, but have since fallen to 1.36 million jobs, still among the highest levels on record.
In commerce, transport and public services sector, job vacancies jumped to 1.47 million, up 12% from March 2019, but remain below 2018 highs (including the record 1.58 million openings in November 2018 ).
Jobs in finance and insurance were at a relatively low level of 262,000 openings in March, down about 25% from the top of the range of over 350,000 openings over the years. These companies were able to fill their jobs during the pandemic, and working from home prevented this industry from dropping jobs in the first place.
In the information sector, vacancies, at 98,000, were at the lower end of the multi-year range as the sector did not lose many jobs and was largely able to fill vacancies in the need.
In mining and logging, including oil and gas drilling, vacancies climbed to 31,000, from 18,000 in February, but remained in the broad range, and down from March 2019.
Small businesses in particular. Separately, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index was also released today, and its ‘Current Jobs’ sub-index that these small businesses want to fill but ‘are currently not able to fill’ has climbed for three consecutive months to an all-time high :
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