- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

The number of U.S. job openings fell again in August, hitting the lowest number in nine years, according to the Labor Department.

The agency reported the 2.39 million openings were 21,000 fewer than in July and 50 percent less than a July 2007 high.

The number of firings also slowed in August, according to the report released Friday, indicating the lack of jobs is contributing to the country’s high employment, in addition to companies cutting payroll to reduce costs.

“It’s a fine distinction,” Mark Rzepczynski, managing partner of Lakewood Partners, a fund management firm in Boston, said Monday. “When the credit crunch occurred in the third quarter of last year, companies shed jobs quickly and now they’re in pretty good shape.”

A government report released earlier this month shows 15.1 million people unemployed, which equals seven of them now competing for one opening, one more than in August. The unemployment rate is now at 9.8 percent.

The lack of jobs is a continuing concern for the Obama administration, which in February signed into law a roughly $788 billion stimulus package — designed largely to create jobs through such public projects as road and bridge construction. The unemployment rate at the time was 7.6 percent.

“I won’t rest until every American who wants a job can find one,” the president has repeatedly said.

Mr. Rzepczynski sticks with the accepted theory that job numbers are “lagging indicators” and that economic growth will create more jobs, not that hiring will sparking growth.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and most other economists think the unemployment rate will hit 10 percent by the end of 2009. And Mr. Bernanke said recently the rate will remain at about 9 percent through next year.

Mr. Rzepczynski does not expect the economy to plummet or investors to panic if the rate reaches 10 percent.

“I think most people realize that might happen,” he said.

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