The number of job openings available in the U.S. grew to almost 9.3 million in April, according to Labor Department’s Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. It appears that the Biden administration’s free money policy is having some unintended consequences.
Openings grew by about a million since March, when an upwardly revised 8.288 million jobs stood open. The openings are enough to find jobs for just about all of the 9.3 million people currently unemployed in the U.S.
With about the same number of jobs open as people unemployed, it should be as simple as matching up unemployed people with a job. But in a nation of 50 states, thousands of regions, and nearly 161 million available labor force participants, nothing is as simple as it should be.
Instead, there are labor shortages all around the country, and businesses everywhere are having trouble finding workers in spite of unemployment sitting at 5.8% in the latest report.
Demand high, workers not excited
“There’s no shortage of demand for workers on a national basis, but there are mismatches among sectors and localities,” senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com Mark Hamrick said.
Some level of mismatch between geographical locations and the types of jobs being sought is always a factor in unemployment. Not everyone can–or wants to–move to a different area just to get a job, and there are a lot of job openings in low-wage, entry level jobs that won’t be suitable for unemployed workers with professional skill sets.
Still, based on historic unemployment levels and the fact that 7.6 million fewer people are in the labor market now than were in Feburary 2020, before COVID, there are millions of people who could be employed right now and aren’t. Perhaps this will change some when a federal unemployment boost that is paying people as much as $23 per hour not to work ends in many states in June or July.
The White House has tried to pooh-pooh the impact of the extra $300 weekly unemployment on labor force participation, but Republicans in Congress have been challenging Biden’s administration to deal with the problem.
Graham says family members aren’t working because of unemployment
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called on Biden’s acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young to cut off the federal boost in benefits early nationwide, saying that he has people in his own family who aren’t working because of the extra benefits.
“Bottom line is I think there are people out there, they’re not bad people, but they’re not going to work for $15 an hour and make $23 unemployed,” Graham said. “That doesn’t make you a bad person. If you’re working for $15 an hour, that makes you almost a chump.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4.2 million people have been unemployed for at least six months, which gives further credence to people being willing to depend on unemployment benefits rather than working.
Twenty-five states have decided to end the extra federal benefits in June or July to try to get people back to work. The next two jobs reports will show whether their plan works or whether Biden is right that unemployment isn’t driving the labor shortage and lackluster jobs numbers experts are seeing.