Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Job Openings Aren’t What They Used To Be

Don't Miss Out —
Follow us on:
Ticker: Decline in Recruiting Intensity

By Mark Whitehouse

Throughout the recent false dawn in the job market, one thing hasn't changed much: The low intensity of employers' efforts to fill vacancies.

New Labor Department data on job openings and turnover, released today, allow us to update a labor-market indicator known as recruiting intensity. Developed by economists Steven Davis, Jason Faberman and John Haltiwanger, it tracks various hard-to-measure qualities of job openings, such as how well they are advertised, the toughness of the screening process and the attractiveness of compensation packages. It gives a sense of how hard employers are trying to fill jobs, and how good or bad the experience of applying for a job is likely to be.

The latest data suggest -- if anybody needed further confirmation -- that looking for a job has remained a consistently awful experience, even during the winter mini-boom when employers were adding more than 200,000 jobs a month. The level of recruiting intensity saw a bit of a spike in February (see chart), and has gradually crept upward since the economy hit bottom in 2009. But as of April, it still stood 13 percent below its pre-recession average, and 17 percent below its pre-recession peak.

Depressing as it may sound, the weak recruiting effort does offer one bit of hope. It suggests that persistently high unemployment is not yet a permanent structural problem, in which U.S. workers lack the skills or other qualifications needed to fill available jobs. If and when employers find the confidence to advertise their positions more, relax their requirements or offer better terms, the job market can still come back.

(Mark Whitehouse is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)

-0- Jun/19/2012 16:58 GMT

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.