Economists say labor market lacks 'churn'

Oct. 7, 2013 at 12:35 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. job market is not only slow for the unemployed, it is slow for those with jobs, resulting in workers stuck in place, federal economists said.

"Nobody's leaving for a better job. These guys aren't moving on," said economist Jason Faberman at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday the number of jobs created each month, as posted monthly by the Department of Labor, shows a steady gain of about 190,000 jobs per month as the economy slogs through a recovery.

Faberman said positions "aren't opening up for the unemployed" and data show there is less job market "churn" than there was before the recession. Churn refers to the turnover in jobs that does not show up in the monthly total of jobs gained or lost.

Churn refers to turnover among jobs that already exist. Technically this is given the name of "voluntary quits" although it represents workers who quit, were fired or were promoted.

Before the economic downturn, voluntary quits were at roughly 3 million per month. By July, the figure showed it was still stuck in low gear at 2.3 million, the Journal said.

"People are getting stuck," Yale economist Lisa Kahn said. "That very likely has consequences even after the recovery."

The problem is similar to a river that has not gained or lost water, but it is still semi-frozen.

This is especially damaging to younger workers who are normally prone to stepping along and making headway in their careers, moving from one position to a better one.

"If you miss that window when you're young, that could have really long-term consequences. They cannot go up the job ladder," said University of Virginia economist Toshihiko Mukoyama.

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