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Looking at Data from the BLS.gov, I was able to compare the number of people unemployed (not seasonally adjusted--Shown in Blue) vs the number of job openings (shown in green) from 2000 to the Start of 2009. (The Data for job openings is only available up until January 2009, while the unemployment statistics are available through March, 2009).
I then took the ratio of the number of unemployed workers for every job opening (Right Hand Scale--Red Dashed Line). As you can see, from 2000 to 2007, there were usually between 1.5 to 2.0 unemployed workers for every job opening. As of January, 2009 there were 4.4 unemployed workers for every job opening.
And Given that
- the unemployment rate increased almost 1 percentage point from January to March (causing the number of unemployed to grow by 7% in 2 short months).
- The number of underemployed people has significantly grown in the last year
- Odds are that there are fewer job openings in March, 2009 than in January 2009
- Many of the job openings actually shown are probably not being promptly filled
I'd venture to say that there are easily 10+ job seekers for every actual job that needs to be filled... This creates a bad cycle for head-hunters & HR professionals---b/c if job lookers need to be applying to many more jobs to have a chance at being considered---so that means the number of resume's be received and reviewed for any job openings has grown by an order of magnitude since 2 years ago.
Another implication of this is, if every single job opening were filled tomorrow--Unemployment would only drop by ~20%---Meaning the unemployment rate would still be above 6.5%.