Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Healing Job Market

With over 15 million individuals unemployed based on Thursday's jobs report and an additional 10.7 million individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, labor market improvement can not happen fast enough. However, employment related reports this past week indicate the job market is improving. Initial jobless claims for the week ending August 7 were reported at 963,000, a far cry lower than the nearly 7 million claims filed at the peak of the pandemic shutdown in March/April. Although last week's claims level is too high, they are declining.

Also reported last week was the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report for June. As the maroon line in the above chart shows, job openings increased by 518,000. To gauge the health of the job market, one variable worth evaluating is the Total Separations category reported in the JOLTS report minus the Job Quits. This net figure provides one with insight into job losses that are more in the category of involuntary. The JOLTS report notes the separation category "includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations." Quits on the other hand are "generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee." As the below chart shows, these involuntary job losses are back to a level seen prior to the virus mandated shutdown.

In conclusion, as noted at the beginning of this post, too many individuals are not employed and this can be seen in the final chart below. Based on the JOLTS report though, it does appear improvement is occurring in the job market. The increase in reported job openings is one favorable sign and just today, as I was out running errands, I saw quite a few businesses with "we are hiring" signs in their window. As more states reopen their economies, further job market improvement is likely to unfold.

No comments :