Much More Than Payrolls

There are two very big problems with these constant, increasingly shrill labor market anecdotes. The first is that they don’t end up meaning what the tellers think they do. The purpose of these stories is clear enough, it’s just that the logic doesn’t work in the end. Here’s another example from the Wall Street Journal…

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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…


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…