More Jobs than Jobless

Interesting things happening in our economy.

The jobs market has reached what should be some kind of inflection point: there are now more openings than there are workers.

April marked the second month in a row this historic event has occurred, and the gap is growing.

According to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Surveyreleased Tuesday, there were just shy of 6.7 million open positions in April, the most recent month for which data are available. That represented an increase of 65,000 from March and is a record.

The number of vacancies is pulling well ahead of the number the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts as unemployed. This year is the first time the level of the unemployed exceeded the jobs available since the BLS started tracking JOLTS numbers in 2000.

As of April, the total workers looking and eligible for jobs fell to 6.35 million, a decrease from 6.58 million the previous month. The number fell further in May to 6.06 million, though there is no comparable JOLTS data for that month.

There are only a few things that could cause this. First, employers may not be paying enough to lure workers off of the unemployment line. Then again, perhaps our benefits for people who are able to work, but choose not to, are too generous. Second, too many of the people who are out of work may not be able to get a job because they can’t pass the drug test. Third, the people looking for work don’t have the skills for the jobs available, in which case, employers should be investing in job training programs.

It is certainly a combination of all of the factors, but something will have to give pretty soon.