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US job vacancy duration at a record high as labour market tightens

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 09:29
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US employers are taking more time than ever to fill a record number of job openings, according to a report issued on Thursday, in a fresh indication that labour market conditions are tightening.

[NEW YORK] US employers are taking more time than ever to fill a record number of job openings, according to a report issued on Thursday, in a fresh indication that labour market conditions are tightening.

Employers on average took 27.8 days to fill an opening in May, according to the DHI-DFH Mean Vacancy Duration Measure, a monthly report issued by DHI Group, operator of the technology jobs site dice.com. That was more than three days longer than a year earlier and 23 per cent greater than in May 2007, before the onset of the financial crisis.

The data is related to the US Labour Department's monthly Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey, a closely tracked measure of labor demand. On Tuesday the JOLTS data for the same month showed job openings at 5.36 million, a record since the report began in December 2000.

"The recent rise in vacancy durations is remarkable, and it lends more weight to the view that US labour markets continue to tighten," Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and co-creator of the report, said in a statement.

The trend suggests "it has become harder for employers to find the right person for the job or that the recruitment and hiring process has become more cumbersome and drawn out - or both," he said.

Both the DHI-DFH and JOLTS reports lag the government's nonfarm payrolls report by a month, and both have been suggesting somewhat more strength in the job market than that benchmark survey.

Last week, the Labour Department said 223,000 jobs were created in June, down from 254,000 in May, and the unemployment rate dropped a seven-year low of 5.3 per cent. The drop in the jobless rate was largely due to an exodus from the workforce by discouraged job seekers.

While the average vacancy duration was around 28 days, several sectors are taking well over a month to fill openings. That includes more than 42 days in health services, 41 days in financial services, 36 days in tech and nearly 34 days in manufacturing.

The data also showed the duration of vacancies is growing in sectors dominated by unskilled or lower-skilled labour. The wholesale and retail trade sector averaged 20.3 days, up from 13.2 days in 2009, and leisure and hospitality openings went unfilled for 20.5 days, roughly double the length at the end of the recession.

REUTERS