Are We Hiring Yet?

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The number of unemployed workers per job opening peaked at the end of 2009 at 6.1% -- the highest level ever recorded. Even after three months of job growth, that number is still near its historic high.

Here's more background on the hiring situation: the unemployment rate tells us what percent of the labor force does not have a job. It does not tell us whether Americans are unemployed because they just lost their job (indicated by a high job separation rate), or because they have been out of job for an extended period of time (indicated by a low job finding rate). This graph, from the Cleveland Fed, does:

http://www.clevelandfed.org/research/commentary/2010/2010-1-3.gif

More than 95 percent of the change in the unemployment rate since the beginning of the recession is due, not to job separation, but record-low job finding, the Cleveland Fed reported. Job growth will continue to pick up in the next few months, but today's economy still counts as a hiring crisis.



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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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