With job vacancies up, employers take longer to hire

Hiring

A 'now hiring' sign is viewed in the window of a fast food restaurant in New York City.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job vacancies is back to where it was before the recession. In May, there were some 4.6 million open positions.

You might think that has to be good news for out-of-work Americans, but hiring is still moving slowly. “The mean duration of U.S. job vacancies rose to 25.1 working days in May,” the Dice-DFH Vacancy Duration Measure reports. 

A lot of experts blame this on something called “the skills gap.” Since 2007, there has been this narrative, that employers aren’t hiring, or they are taking their time hiring, because they can’t find enough qualified candidates.

“The skills mismatch is kind of like the zombie explanation of the labor market that just won’t go away,” says Sylvia Allegretto, with the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment.

It is true that, during the downturn, employers could be choosy if they chose to hire at all, but the economy has improved, the unemployment rate has been coming down steadily, and Allegretto says that is not because all of a sudden people have all the right skills.

“If we had severe mismatches throughout the labor market, we would be seeing more wage growth than we are seeing,” says Barry Hirsch, W.J. Usery Chair of the American Workplace at Georgia State University. Qualified workers would be able to demand more money, and employers would have to meet that demand.

There is a bigger reason why hiring is not happening faster, according to Matt Freedman, an associate professor of economics at Cornell University: “Employers still have a lot of lingering uncertainty about the durability of this recovery.” 

They’re cautious, and Freedman says, there is no reason for them to hurry. 

“There is little cost to posting a vacancy, but potentially a lot of upside if you can find a really qualified person who is willing to work for you for very little money.”

For employers, that may be something worth waiting for. 

The number of job vacancies is back up to where it was *before the recession.  You’d think that’s gotta be good news for out-of-work Americans…  But *hiring is still moving *slowly, even though *employers posted more than four-and-a-half *million jobs in May.  A lot of experts blame something called “the skills gap.” But that doesn’t tell the *whole story.  Marketplace’s David Gura reports.

 

GURA1:

Since 2007,

There’s been this narrative:

 

That employers aren’t hiring,

Or they’re taking their *time hiring,

Because they can’t find enough *qualified candidates.

 

Sylvia Allegretto is with the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

At U-C Berkeley:
ALLEGRETTO1:

The skills mismatch is kind of like the zombie explanation of the labor market that just won’t go away.

 

GURA2:

It’s *true

That during the downturn,

Employers *could be *choosy.

*If they *chose to hire at all…

 

But the economy’s gotten better.

The unemployment rate’s been coming down *steadily,

And Allegretto says that’s *not because

All of a sudden

People have all the *right skills.

 

Barry Hirsch is a professor of economics at Georgia State:

 

                HIRSCH1:

If we had severe mismatches throughout the labor market, we would be seeing more wage growth than we are seeing.

 

GURA3:

*Qualified workers

Would be able to *demand more money,

And *employers would have to meet that demand.

 

Matt Freedman is a labor economist at Cornell,

And he says there’s a *bigger reason why

Hiring is not happening *faster:

 

                FREEDMAN1:

                Employers still have a lot of lingering uncertainty about the durability of this recovery.

 

GURA4:

They’re *cautious. 

And really,

Freedman says,

There’s *no *reason for them to *hurry:

 

                FREEDMAN2:

There is little cost to posting a vacancy, but potentially a lot of upside if you can find a really qualified person who is willing to work for you for very little money.

 

GURA5:

And for employers
*that may be something worth waiting for.

 

SOC:

In Washington, I’m David Gura, for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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