More job openings

All eyes are on the job market, especially for the 16 million people nationally and 400,000 folks in North Carolina who are unemployed. Is there any indication that hiring has picked up? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden weighs in.

“Actually it has. … If you look since last winter in the nation, we have added 700,000 jobs. Here in North Carolina, we have added 30,000 jobs since last winter. And the majority, in both, cases have actually been in the private sector.

“Also job openings — that is, businesses looking for people to hire — have increased. Prior of the recession the number of job openings averaged about 3.5 percent of the workforce. During the recession it plunged to 1.5 percent of the workforce. Now it is up to 2.5 percent of the workforce. So bottom line: more businesses are looking to hire more people.

“If we could fill those jobs instantly, all those jobs that businesses want to hire people for, if we could fill them instantly the national unemployment rate would actually drop to 6.5 percent. So the question is, well, why aren’t those jobs being filled instantly? Well, because in many cases businesses can’t find qualified workers.

“So we not only have an unemployment problem, we have a skill-match problem, where the people who are unemployed don’t have the skills for the jobs that are open.”

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