Job-seekers outnumber jobs, 3 to 1

More bad news this week for people looking for work: The number of job-seekers outnumbers the jobs available by 3 to 1. This is according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, left-leaning Washington think tank. Don't you wonder where they get the number of jobs available? The figure comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

JOLTS, the acronym for the department that generates this report, says that it counts job openings once a month, on the last business day of the month. The company must be actively recruiting outside candidates, by advertising or interviewing. But the jobs themselves could be part-time, seasonal or short-term. I think that would tend to undercount the types of jobs that most people need -- so 3 to 1 might actually be a very optimistic number. Scary. Also, it appears that JOLTS collects data from "selected establishments" only. There's no further explanation on the website about how JOLTS chooses which employers to survey, or whether they're reaching out to a small sample and then multiplying to get national numbers. I can't imagine that every employer responds to JOLTS every month. Multiplying a small sample multiplies your rate of error. That doesn't fill me with confidence.

I'll send them an e-mail inquiry and report back.

I offer all of this in case you were wondering whether I'm a data geek. The answer is affirmative.