Whatever Happened to the Runaway Job Vacancies? April, 2011 Edition.

A friendly reminder that a lot of our 2010 discussion of unemployment was guided by overestimated job vacancy numbers. This lead economic commentators to think that there were a lot of open jobs throughout 2010 that people were unable to accept, either because of skills or mobility or some other structural problem, even though the number of job vacancies were overestimated by a significant amount as a result of the BLS’ modeling.

And sure enough, 2011 has been a year where job vacancies haven’t taken off. We’d normally see circular motions as the labor market adjusts to a recovery. And on Wednesday, new JOLTS data came out for April, and the job vacancy (or opening) rate went down a bit, from 2.3% to 2.2%. Considering that unemployment increased during that month, the overall move was down-and-out, when recoveries should be associated with up-and-in. Bad times.

Quit rates, which I like to keep an eye on as they impact those that are working, also went down 0.1%, from 1.5% to 1.4%.

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