Is the labor market stagnating or improving? Pessimists, including Mitt Romney, interpreted the weak April jobs numbers as a bad sign for the labor market. This negative view was seemingly confirmed by the May 8th BLS release on job openings, which started by saying: “There were 3.7 million job openings on the last business day of March, little changed from February.”
However, focusing on the private-sector tells a much different story. In fact,private-secto job openings actually jumped by 6% in March. Since December, private sector job openings have been rising at a 24% annual rate.
It’s worth taking a look at the following chart, created from BLS data. This chart shows a steady improvement in the number of private-sector job openings, which are now back to the 2008 level. There’s no sign of a slowdown.
These data run through March 2012. But it’s worth noting that The Conference Board data on help-wanted ads show a continuing rise through April.