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Proving The ‘L’ In Labor

Back in 2011 and 2012, apple growers in the state of Washington got the government there to declare an emergency. They were expecting a record or near-record crop of fruit but they just couldn’t find enough workers to harvest it all. Faced with a potentially devastating labor shortage, Washington’s governor turned to convicts. I wrote…


There Aren’t Two Labor Markets

Allusions to a labor shortage continue to be ubiquitous. Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published yet another such story under the headline Iowa’s Employment Problem: Too Many Jobs, Not Enough People. Ostensibly about the experiences of companies trying to hire in the one state, the implication was clear enough. If Iowa, IOWA, has…


More Less Than Nothing, Labor Conditions

Despite a lower calculated inflation rate for April 2017, Real Average Weekly Earnings were only just positive for the month year-over-year. As the CPI had moved higher on the base effects of oil prices, real earnings were forced negative in each of the three prior months. The reason is, as always, no acceleration in nominal…


Getting JOLTS

Consistent with the LMCI, the JOLTS data series suggests very little has changed. There are two crossover points between them, where the level of Hires and the Quits Rate (a calculation derived from the JOLTS estimates) are included as two of the 19 factors in the LMCI. Though the latter was revised somewhat higher over…


A Lot of Noise Where Noise Really Shouldn’t Be

Since there isn’t any detectable acceleration in wages or earnings, the plateau across the JOLTS data dating back to various points in 2015 is therefore not likely to be related to the presumed end of labor market slack. Even if the unemployment rate were a valid and relevant interpretation of “full employment”, there would be…


Was There Ever A ‘Skills Mismatch’? Notable Differences In Job Openings Suggest No

Perhaps the most encouraging data produced by the BLS has been within its JOLTS figures, those of Job Openings. It is one data series that policymakers watch closely and one which they purportedly value more than most. While the unemployment and participation rates can be caught up in structural labor issues (heroin and retirees), Job…


Labor Stats Are A Big Problem

The updated estimates from the BLS for its JOLTS data largely confirm observations from other labor markets figures. The rate of Job Openings in November 2016 was slightly more than October, but still not appreciably different than what it has been over the past two years. The JOLTS survey indicated Job Openings first reached 5.5…


No Love From JOLTS

The BLS reported that the rate of hiring in the US continues to be sluggish and sideways. Total hiring across the labor market was estimated to be 5.08 million (SA) in September, down from August and the second slowest rate this year. Since first surpassing 5 million back in September 2014, the overall pace of…


The JOLTS Phantom: Hires or Job Openings?

In all honesty, I could start almost any piece I write with the phrase “economists are stumped.” It has become something of a baseline where there is some element or condition of the global economy that doesn’t make sense to them. The latest update in JOLTS for July continues to be faithful to the seeming…


Unemployment Rate Doesn’t Fit JOLTS, Either

The latest JOLTS update finds total hires in January down by a rather large 372k, leaving the monthly seasonally-adjusted rate at still 5 million. Given that the estimated hires rate increased unusually in December, it seems as if January was the statistical catchup or seasonal give-back. That leaves intact the same sideways pattern that first…