The Labor Market Continues to Heal

Is the labor market stagnating or improving? Pessimists, including Mitt Romney, interpreted the weak April jobs numbers as a bad sign for the labor market. This negative view was seemingly confirmed by the May 8th BLS release on job openings, which started by saying: “There were 3.7 million job openings on the last business day of March, little changed from February.”

However, focusing on the private-sector tells a much different story. In fact,private-secto job openings actually jumped by 6% in March. Since December, private sector job openings have been rising at a 24% annual rate.

It’s worth taking a look at the following chart, created from BLS data.  This chart shows a steady improvement in the number of private-sector job openings, which are now back to the 2008 level. There’s no sign of a slowdown.

These data run through March 2012. But it’s worth noting that The Conference Board data on help-wanted ads show a continuing rise through April.

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About Michael Mandel 126 Articles

Michael Mandel was BusinessWeek's chief economist from 1989-2009, where he helped direct the magazine's coverage of the domestic and global economies.

Since joining BusinessWeek in 1989, he has received multiple awards for his work, including being honored as one of the 100 top U.S. business journalists of the 20th century for his coverage of the New Economy. In 2006 Mandel was named "Best Economic Journalist" by the World Leadership Forum.

Mandel is the author of several books, including Rational Exuberance, The Coming Internet Depression, and The High Risk Society.

Mandel holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

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