Data Show Wide Gap Between Numbers of Jobs and the Jobless

By Anthony Calabrese
August 12, 2010


The gap between jobs and the jobless has grown significantly since the start of the recession, with nearly 11.7 million more unemployed people than available job openings this summer.

This snapshot was calculated using the latest available Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the Employment Situation for July and the June release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

For JOLTS survey, job openings include full-time, part-time, permanent, short-term and seasonal positions. Data are collected and compiled from a sample of business organizations on the last business day of the month. According to the BLS, three criteria must be met:

  • The opening must be for a specific position that has available work.
  • The work must begin within the next 30 days.
  • The employer must be actively recruiting from outside the organization.

Use the interactive chart below to compare the number of job openings and the number of unemployed people over time.

Job Openings, the Recession and Recovery

There were close to 4.4 million job openings at the start of the recession in December of 2007 according to the JOLTS data. The low point for job openings was in July of 2009 when there were less than 2.4 million positions available. Since then, number of openings has risen by 599,000 - an increase of 26 percent according to the BLS. The start and end dates for recessions are set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). NBER has not set an end date for the current recession.

Data Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics:The Employment Situation (July)

The Employment Situation With Tables (PDF)

Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (June)

Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey with Tables (PDF)

National Bureau of Economic Research: Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions

What Do You Think?

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Data visualization by Anthony Calabrese, a State of the USA Web producer.

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