The number of job seekers relative to open positions in the U.S. surged in 2008. At the end of October, there were 33 people looking for work for every 10 openings in the U.S., according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. In contrast, at the beginning of the year, there were only 19 job seekers for every 10 open positions. The latest numbers reflect the widest gap between jobs and people looking for work since September 2003, the end of the so-called jobless recovery that followed the dot-com meltdown. The news for employers is obvious: "Workers will be willing to take wage concessions," Shierholz says.

Published on: Jan 1, 2009