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Amidst An Abundance Of Uncertainty, The U.S. Labor Market Is Flashing Some Serious Warning Signs

Sep. 02, 2015 Source: Toby Dayton, LinkUp CEO

Like Alice in Wonderland, it’s exceedingly difficult to make any sense of the world of late as it turns upside down on what seems to be a daily basis.


After huge gains in new and total job openings in our job search engine (which includes 3.3 million jobs updated daily from 50,000 company websites which means that the jobs are always current, with no duplicates or job board pollution) in May and June, particularly new job openings which jumped 26% in June, new job openings have plummeted in July and August. With typically a 30-60 day lag in the amount of time it takes for changes in job openings to be reflected in actual payroll numbers, the question is whether August’s nonfarm payroll report will rise sharply due to June’s jump in new job openings or drop precipitously as a result of the decline in new job openings in July.

To try to get some insight into which data point might prove prescient, we can look at our monthly Jobs Duration data which measures how long job openings were in our search engine before they rolled off, presumably because they were filled with a new hire.


As the chart, left, shows, 4 million jobs rolled off LinkUp over the past 6 months, and those jobs were on the site for an average of 42 days. That average duration is down from 49 days just 2 months ago. So for 9 months between last October and this past June, the velocity of hiring across the country slowed considerably (as evidenced by an average job duration which rose from 41 to 49 days) as the labor market tightened and employers found it increasingly difficult to fill openings. Since then, however, job duration has fallen again, quite dramatically, in fact.


As an aside, the chart also perfectly depicts seasonal hiring trends over the course of a calendar year. As the blue line indicates, employers post a ton of new job openings in January and taper off the rate of new job openings until a slight uptick in the spring. New job openings are typically down in the summer, rise slightly with another hiring push each fall, followed by a complete dearth of new postings in the 4th quarter.

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