5 Reasons the Labor Market is Not as Tight as the Unemployment Rate Suggests


PREMO Member
1. Large Parts of the Country Still Have Staggeringly High Unemployment Rates

The result is a highly uneven labor market, characterized by labor shortages in some occupations and areas, but massive over-supplies of job seekers in others. While there are many opportunities for workers in manufacturing, construction, and transportation, for example, there are other occupations where huge numbers of candidates are competing over scarce jobs. Over the past year on ZipRecruiter, there were roughly 38,000 jobs for receptionists and over 3.6 million applications. That’s almost 100 responses per job. The picture is similar for warehouse personnel, such as pickers, stockers, and forklift drivers. There were roughly 72,000 jobs for warehouse workers and 6 million responses.

2. Labor Force Participation Is Still Relatively Low

At 62.7%, the civilian labor force participation rate is still well below its pre-recession level of around 66%, and its 2000 peak of 67.3%. Similarly, the 60.4% employment-to-population rate is well below its 2000 peak of 64.7%. And this is not just because of an aging population and retiring baby boomers. Fewer prime-age Americans are working or looking for work. And the drop-off has been particularly sharp for people with less education. What’s more, female labor force participation has declined since 2000 in the U.S., while doing the opposite in most OECD countries.

5 Reasons the Labor Market is Not as Tight as the Unemployment Rate Suggests