The U.S. unemployment rate is hovering at a lackluster 6.2 percent, but it might not be a mere lack of jobs keeping Americans out of work: there are plenty of job openings, but business owners say they can’t find qualified workers to fill those spots.
As two economic reports released Tuesday indicated, U.S. job openings and hiring figures were relatively strong in June and July.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job openings and labor turnover survey, there were 4.7 million job openings in the U.S. on the last business day of June.
The number of openings and June’s 4.8 million hires were a slight increase over May, when there were 4.6 million openings and 4.7 million hires.
But the numbers are part of a very positive trend for the year.
“From January 2014 through June 2014, the number of job openings trended upward by an average 159,000 job openings per month, for a total increase of 797,000 openings,” the BLS report stated.
Also on Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Businesses released its small business optimism survey.
A major finding: Business owners have plenty of openings, but for every five employers who want to hire new help, four of them struggle to fill positions.
As the survey found:
NFIB owners increased employment by an average of 0.01 workers per firm in July (seasonally adjusted), the tenth positive month in a row and the best string of gains since 2006. Seasonally adjusted, 13 percent of the owners (up 1 point) reported adding an average of 2.9 workers per firm over the past few months. Fifty-three percent of the owners hired or tried to hire in the last three months and 42 percent (81 percent of those trying to hire or hiring) reported few or no qualified applicants for open positions. Twenty-four percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down 2 points, but a solid reading. Fifteen percent reported using temporary workers, up a point.
What does the mismatch mean for American workers?
One possibility, as Business Insider’s Sam Ro noted, is that employers could start offering higher wages to attract needed workers.
The change would be welcome, as another recent report found that American jobs pay an average of 23 percent less in 2014 than they did before the financial crisis in 2008.
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