North Dakota Still Has More Job Openings Than Unemployed People

job openings

According to the November job openings report from North Dakota Job Service (see below), the number of job openings listed in the state is down over 21 percent compared to November last year.

“Online job openings totaled 15,901 open and available positions in November 2015,” the report states. “Openings were lower by 4.7 percent (-783) from the prior month and 21.8 percent lower (-4,423) than one year ago.”

Still, even with the decline in the number of open jobs, the state is still measuring far more job openings than unemployed people. “Active resumés totaled 9,440 in November 2015,” the report states. “Active resumés were lower by 0.8 percent (-77) from the prior month but 9.7 percent higher (+836) than one year ago.”

There are about 0.5 unemployed people for every job opening, which is still very low both compared to North Dakota’s historical numbers and the national average:

unemployed per job openings

Not every person who is currently unemployed is the right fit for the sorts of jobs that are open, but overall the metric is revealing and shows – as UND economist David Flynn points out elsewhere on the blog today – that the state’s economy may be proving more resilient than some thought.

Judging by the number of active resumes per job opening, the state is clearly still dealing with a labor shortage:

active resumes per job openings

As you can see in the map above, it’s western North Dakota counties (read: oil patch communities) which have seen the sharpest decline in the number of openings. Yet, still, those counties still mostly have less than one unemployed person per job opening:

job openings map

What this means, as I’ve pointed out before, is that a lot of the workers who are losing their jobs are also leaving the state. They came from out of state to find jobs, and when those jobs disappear they’re leaving the state again. That’s a benefit, I suppose, in that they’re not showing up in the state’s unemployment numbers. Yet given all the unfilled jobs, the state might benefit if some of them stayed.

“But this is only online openings,” you may be saying. That’s true, but given that most jobs are listed online these days Job Service says it’s a good metric for the overall health of the jobs market.

“Online job openings statistics provide a timely overview of the current supply/demand dynamic of North Dakota’s labor market,” the report states. “The number of unfilled jobs (used to calculate the job openings rate) is an important measure of the unmet demand for labor, which paints a more complete picture of the state’s labor market than by looking solely at the unemployment rate, a measure of the excess supply of labor.”

Here’s the full report:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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