U.S. companies may experience “a hiring panic” in the next few months as they struggle to fill job openings, according to Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research Inc.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows why by comparing the four-week average of initial claims for unemployment benefits with the percentage of respondents in the Conference Board’s consumer-confidence surveys that say jobs are hard to get.
Jobless claims are a leading indicator for the ease of finding work, Yardeni wrote in a blog posting two days ago that featured a similar chart. The four-week average of applications fell 5,500 last week to 354,000, the lowest level since March 2008, according to the Labor Department.
Claims have tumbled by about 300,000 since peaking three years ago. The hard-to-get reading swung between 42 percent and 49 percent throughout the period until last month, when it fell to 38.7 percent.
“More companies are having trouble finding the employees they need,” Yardeni wrote, citing feedback from clients of his New York-based investment-advisory firm that talk to companies regularly. The Conference Board’s gauge may fall into the 20s once hiring accelerates, the posting said.
The index is signaling that the unemployment rate may drop below 8 percent soon, according to Yardeni. Last month’s rate was 8.3 percent, unchanged from January, according to the average estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey.