Job openings are at a record high. Why aren't people filling them?

This has implications for policy makers: Sand in the wheels of the labor market could cause inflation pressures that spur Federal Reserve policy makers to pull back on low interest rate policies meant to support growth. In the longer-run, on the other hand, the slow matching process could have benefits, leaving workers in jobs they prefer and the economy more efficient.

Several factors are behind the development: Many workers moved during the pandemic and aren’t where jobs are available; many have changed their preferences, for instance pursuing remote work, having discovered the benefits of life with no commute; the economy itself shifted, leading to jobs in industries such as warehousing that aren’t in places where workers live or suit the skills they have; extended unemployment benefits and relief checks, meantime, are giving workers time to be choosy in their search for the next job...

A recent ZipRecruiter survey found 70% of job seekers who last worked in the leisure and hospitality industry say they are now looking for work in a different industry. In addition, 55% of job applicants want remote jobs. An April survey of U.S. workers who lost jobs in the pandemic, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, found that 30.9% didn’t want to return to their old jobs, up from 19.8% last July.

Economists call the phenomenon slowing the job market recovery “mismatch,” a disconnect between the jobs open and the people looking for work.