I think there are problems with Mike Cassidy’s interpretation of the seeming conflict between the large number of unemployed and the large number of job openings:
In other words, based on historical patterns, we’d expect the level of job openings we see today to produce a lower unemployment rate than the one we have. The job market should be better than it is. –
This disconnect — persistent unemployment and underemployment despite lots of vacancies — has fueled debates among economists. Some see it as proof that the workforce lacks the skills employers value, while others take it as evidence that demand for the products and services American companies make has not recovered as fully as we’d like to think. Which side of this debate you fall on will dictate your policy preferences; for example, those in the former camp generally oppose fiscal and monetary stimulus, while those in the latter support it.
There’s another possibility that Mr. Cassidy ignores but which should be obvious to anyone who’s ever hired anyone: a lot of the jobs on offer are phantoms. There are companies, particularly large companies, who are fishing for bargains. I’d summarize it this way. When you offer to buy quarters for a nickel apiece, the only people who’ll sell you their quarters are those who are really desperate to get rid of them.
I also think that the large number of two-career households has something to do with it. Not only does it mean there are fewer people really desperate to get rid of their quarters but it also means that people are less likely to move to where the jobs are than they used to be. The opportunity would need to be pretty darned good in order outweigh the cost of abandoning one job in order to take one job.