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The Silver Lining: Job Openings Continue To Grow Even As Jobless Rate Stays High

Applicants line up for a recent job fair in New York City.

According to a report in July from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.6 million jobs are currently open and ready to be filled, provided that the right candidates apply. That figure is up from 3.4 million the previous month, and is the second-highest for any month this year (up 16 percent 2011). Yet this hopeful news may be overshadowed by the fact that employers only increased the number of paid employees by 77,000 in May (and that number is estimated to be 80,000 for June). The overall unemployment rate has remained above 8% since February 2009.

Clearly it would be unrealistic to assume that every job would fill immediately. And of course in any dynamic economy, positions are constantly opening up while vacancies are created.

Yet why does such a large gap remain between the number of new positions being filled and the number of openings reported by businesses? As reporter Marilyn Geewax wrote last month, one idea is that employers are being far too finicky — they’re sitting back and waiting for the absolutely “ideal” candidates when many well-qualified people might be just the right fit with only a little training.

It’s also likely that while many employers claim the want to fill openings, they’re particularly enthusiastic to hire until they see stronger evidence that the economic recovery has gained momentum. Of course, in order for the economy to further recover we need more job growth. So employer reluctance could just be exacerbating the situation.

Politicians, as expected, are pointing fingers at each other.  But according to analysts for the Associated Press, there is undoubtedly good news in the new figures: “A rise in openings could mean hiring will pick up in the coming months. It typically takes one to three months to fill a job.”

The employment attorneys at Emery Reddy are committed advocates of workers employed in both small and large companies. If you have experienced illegal employment practices—discrimination, wrongful termination, awage dispute, or some other issue involving FMLA or ADA—we will defend your rights and help you receive the maximum compensation allowed under Washington law.

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