Millions of Jobs are Open — But Companies May Not Be Hiring. Here’s Why

If you’ve always wanted to be a doctor, accountant or engineer, now might be a great time to land your dream job.

Or maybe not.

Before you switch your major or quit your current job, read this.

There Are Millions of Open Jobs in the U.S.

As of the last business day of February 2017, there are roughly 1.3 million open jobs in the health services and education industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The professional and business services sector accounts for another one million open jobs around the country.

Meanwhile, mining and logging, along with the media and information sector, have the fewest available job openings. They clock in at 18,000 and 69,000 respectively.

So does that mean anyone thinking about going into mining, logging, television or publishing should forget about it and find a new line of work?

Not necessarily.

It turns out the number of available jobs doesn’t equal the number of people who actually get jobs.

Why Aren’t Some Companies Filling Their Open Jobs?

The Bureau says a large number of open jobs available in a given field doesn’t necessarily mean companies are filling them.

Take companies in the information and business industries, where the availability of jobs fluctuates along with the economy.

These organizations may have lots of open jobs but not enough qualified candidates. Or maybe those companies aren’t offering a reasonable wage and skilled workers are taking a pass.  

Yet some industries are always hiring, and jobs are consistently scarce.

Construction is the one industry in which hires are always high and job openings are always low. Turnover is high because workers can move from site to site and employer to employer,” says the Bureau. “Unfilled openings are low because of employers’ ability to quickly find the workers they need.”

It’s the same in entertainment, recreation, retail and the arts. The skills needed for jobs in those areas can often be easily transferred from company to company.

For example, the skills needed to work at Macy’s are largely the same as what you’d need to work at Nordstrom or Old Navy, so finding a new job isn’t usually too difficult.

Manufacturing and government sectors generally have the lowest number of hires and the lowest available jobs, because turnover tends to be fairly low, which means jobs don’t open up as often.

How Should I Decide Which Industry to Enter?

To be honest, the Bureau isn’t a lot of help when it comes to answering this question.

“Jobseekers and career changers can use [this] data to guide their education or job search,” reads the report.

That’s all the Bureau’s researchers have to say on the matter, but here are a few more tips on choosing your career path:

  • Dr. Heidi Grant, Senior Scientist at the Neuroleadership Institute, says, “[Y]ou can begin by choosing a career that fits well with your skills and values. Since you actually have some sense of what those are (hopefully), this is a good starting place.”
  • Tap into your local library for a wealth of free resources to help you with everything from transitioning to a different field to how to hone your interviewing skills.

Do Your Research

Everyone wants a job that fulfills and motivates them, but we’ve also got to pay the bills, right? A little research goes a long way toward helping you find a job that ticks all those boxes.

Once you know what you want to do with your life, check out what the Bureau has to say about that specific industry so you know what to expect during your job search.

Good luck!

Your Turn: Would you rather work in a field with lots of available jobs or one with fewer open jobs but good longevity?

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s been a writer for more than 20 years and is too chicken to look at what the Bureau has to say about her industry. Ignorance is bliss.