Another job indicator

Date posted: June 21, 2012

Job creation and the unemployment rate are two common measures of the job market, but there are issues with both. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden discusses another job market indicators that economists track to give us some sense for how hard it is to get a job.

“And of course we economists are always looking for indicators. … We love indicators. And we realize there’s no perfect indicator. … There is, I think, a very simple indicator that a lot of economists think might be the best of all to measure how good or bad the job market is. And it’s simply the number of job seekers, the number of people seeking a job … opening. That is to say, when Company X says, ‘Hey we’re going to hire one new person,’ what we want to measure is how many people apply. How many people try to get that job?

“And before the recession began, that number was two. On average there were two job seekers for every job opening. At the depth of the recession, that number skyrocketed to seven. Seven people trying to get every job opening.

“Now the good news is that number has now gone back down. It’s down to four. So obviously four is better than seven, but it’s not as good as two. So I think what this indicator is saying is pretty much what all the other labor market indicators are saying. … Yes, the labor market has improved, but it still has a way to go.”

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