Job seekers wait in line at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State department of Labor in New York, US, in this April 12 2012 file photo. Picture: REUTERS
Job seekers wait in line at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State department of Labor in New York, US, in this April 12 2012 file photo. Picture: REUTERS

There is a job vacancy waiting to be filled for every unemployed American — almost.

The labour market has come within an inch of reaching that milestone for the first time in records going back to 2000. Job openings surged to a record 6.55-million in March, the labour department reported on Tuesday. That compares with the 6.585-million unemployed workers in March — just 35,000 more than the number of available positions.

With rising vacancies helping to nearly close the gap with the number of unemployed, the job market is increasingly tight. The fact is likely be noted by Federal Reserve policy makers — the previous chair, Janet Yellen, often cited data from the Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey, or Jolts.

At this rate, vacancies could surpass the 6.35-million unemployed as of April (openings are released with a lag behind the more closely watched monthly jobs report).

At the same time, the increase in job openings does not necessarily mean a boon for anyone who is unemployed, given hurdles such as the lack of relevant skills that employers frequently cite.

In addition, workers may be reluctant to relocate to where the jobs are, or to accept a position with lower pay or in a different field, for example.

Bloomberg

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