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Job seekers don’t lack the skills to get hired, contrary to some experts’ claims. Instead, today’s stubbornly high unemployment (8.2 percent) is due to a lack of demand for workers in all sectors, according to an analysis of government labor data by the Economic Policy Institute.

The latest government report on job openings and labor turnover finds that the landscape improved slightly but that odds are still stacked against job seekers.

The number of job openings in May climbed by 195,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the  ratio of unemployed workers to job openings is still disturbing: 3.5 to 1.

That means for more than two of three jobless workers, there are no jobs.

The hiring situation may be ugly but it’s improved since it bottomed out in 2009 at 6.7 jobs per every one person looking for work. Still, the odds of finding work are daunting. Perhaps no one knows that better than the 2 million older jobless workers, half of whom have been unemployed for a year on average.

Unemployed workers of all ages far outnumber job openings in every sector. Construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and professional and business services were among the weakest industries for those seeking employment.

In a separate report, economists say better times are ahead. Some indications that the second half of 2012 may be stronger than the first half:

  • Hiring for temporary help accelerated in June, a sign that companies are expanding.
  • The size of the labor force increased for the second consecutive month last month, indicating more people were hired or lured back into the work force to search for a job, perhaps thinking opportunities have improved.
  • Labor income, which combines growth in hours worked with hourly earnings for private workers, rose by 0.7 percent in June, its strongest reading since February.
  • Gas prices are falling, improving consumers’ purchasing power (and consumer spending spurs economic growth).

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