Even with unemployment hovering above 9.5 percent for the last year, one key stat has improved. The number of unemployed workers per job opening has declined. Why? More job openings and more people at work.
But even as employers have been faster to announce openings, they have been slower to actually hire. So what does the hirings situation look like?
From a 30,000 foot perspective, it looks like everything else in this Getting Better But Slowly(tm) economy. Hires are up 10 percent from their trough in June 2009, but the picture is uneven. They're still falling in the West, but they're up 33 percent in the midwest. (Why the midwest? Because.)
The picture is also uneven as you look across industries. In the graph below, new hires (in thousands) are measured along the Y-axis. Blue bars mark June 2009 hires and red for June 2010. As you can see, health and education continue to add jobs at a healthy clip. Construction is still falling, which makes sense because the housing market is still in free fall. Retail and business services are having the swiftest rebound, which also makes sense since retail is cheap to hire and businesses are having a nice 2010 -- despite or because of thin hiring.
To close with a chaser to this analysis shot, I give you Annie Lowrey's very cool graph (clicking should expand) tracing the fall and fall of employment in every industry since 2007. Only mining and education/health have more jobs today than at the beginning of 2008.
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