If you thought the economic news couldn’t get worse after last Friday, you would be wrong. A report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, within the US Department of Labor, has more dour news for America. Here are the main takeaways:
As of the last business day in December, there were 10.9 million unfilled job openings. This is close to being a record high and significantly exceeds pre-pandemic levels. For context, there are about 150 million jobs in the US, meaning that for every 15 jobs, there is a job that needs to be filled. This is quite a large number, considering how many jobs it takes to continue to support the lifestyle of ordinary Americans. The report states the largest increases were in “accommodation and food services, information, and nondurable goods manufacturing and state and local government education.”
Image Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor
Total separations (including firings, layoffs, and quitting) slightly decreased to 5.9 million. While this seems (and is) large, the report notes that this is relatively low for 2021, with the layoff rate, in particular, being a “series low” at 1.2 million. In slightly better news, though, there were 6.3 million hiring in December 2021, meaning that the amount of Americans hired actually slightly increased.
Oh, and just in case we needed more bad news, despite the large number of unfilled roles wreaking havoc across the economy, the US appears to have lost over 300,000 jobs in January, primarily in the tourism and hospitality industries, due to Omicron. This has made forecasters even more nervous than they already were about the Department of Labor’s payroll report, which is a different thing from the above report, slated to come out this Friday. This report is likely to contain yet more unsettling news, with Skanda Amarnath, executive director of the research group Employ America, telling the New York Times that “It’s going to be a mess.”
So to summarize, hold on to your hats folks, because the post-pandemic economy is going completely bonkers.