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Economic Impact: Job openings in region consistent with nation

Every once in a while, I hear someone say tens of thousands of jobs are open in the Richmond region and candidates can’t be found for those positions.

There might be only some truth to that.

From August through October, for instance, more than 65,000 jobs were posted online for positions in the Richmond region.

But just because a job is posted on the internet does not mean that candidates can’t be found.

The median number of days of 65,167 job postings in Richmond was 27 days, meaning that 32,583 get filled in less than 27 days and the remainder take longer.

In fact, 52 percent of the job postings in the Richmond area were filled within a month, and about 70 percent were filled by the 45-day mark.

But about 13 percent of jobs remain unfilled after three months.

It seems reasonable to interpret these unfilled jobs after being open for a long while as those difficult to fill due to supply-demand imbalances. Of the 65,167 total job postings from August through October, more than 8,400 may be hard to fill.

The amount of time a job stays open in the Richmond region varies by occupation.

Highly skilled jobs and those needing specific licenses or certifications, such as education, arts and design, engineers and health care practitioners, stay open longer.

For low-skilled jobs such as office, retail sales and personal services, it takes a shorter time to fill open positions.

There is one exception — food service, which shows a high percentage of open positions. In this case, rather than advertising job postings for specific vacancies, companies hiring in these occupations often keep a posting open perpetually in order to collect an applicant pool, which they then draw from when a vacancy arises.

A few firms, including Chmura Economics & Analytics, collect online job postings to identify current job demand and trends for occupations and regions. These job postings can provide some insight into how many jobs go unfilled, but there are some caveats.

For example, some openings are not posted on the internet. This is particularly true in the construction industry, where openings are often communicated by word of mouth.

On the other hand, some job openings may be posted on the internet even though a candidate is already identified for the job. This is more prevalent in large businesses where the human resources department requires that jobs be posted for a period of time or for firms that are constantly recruiting for the same positions due to high turnover.

Despite those caveats, job posting data collected by Chmura Economics generally are consistent with national reports and can yield useful insights on what jobs get filled and how soon.

These numbers appear to be in line with the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey which reports 6.1 million open positions in August across the nation.

With the Richmond area having about 0.4 percent of the national population, proportionally, it is likely that about 24,400 of the nation’s job openings are in the region.

How does Richmond stand relative to the nation on job postings?

Using the nation as a benchmark, the Richmond metro area, with 65,167 total postings from August through October, has 28 percent more job openings than the average region based on the number of people employed here.

That ranks Richmond 93rd among the 381 metropolitan areas in the country.

The Charlottesville and Washington metro areas have higher job openings — 29 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

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