Employers wait longer to hire, waiting for perfect candidate

A Target job fair for a new Los Angeles store. Employers on average are waiting longer to fill empty positions.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Despite an improving economy, employers are waiting longer to fill job openings in their companies even when they receive many applications to a vacancy.

Employers now take an average of 23 business days to hire someone for a position, more than a week longer than the 15 days it took in 2009, according to a study conducted by University of Chicago and University of Maryland economists cited by the New York Times.


The news is not exactly new. Corporate profits are soaring, but with millions still out of work and an unemployment rate at 7.9%, companies feel little incentive to give raises or hire new workers.

Economists say many companies are used to an employer’s market -- employees are so glad to have a job they will take on extra work without complaint. Those who do hire can afford to be picky, wait longer to make a decision and offer lower salaries or benefits to eager applicants.

Some companies say applicants don’t have the necessary skills to qualify for open jobs -- essentially a mismatch of skills between the 12 million jobless and four million jobs out there. More than 50% of U.S. companies said last year they were having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill openings, a jump from the 14% reported in 2010, according to a survey from staffing firm Manpower Group.

Whatever the reason, an unwillingness to hire tamps down consumer demand and sales, experts say. That in turn prompts companies to be more conscious about adding to their payrolls with new hires. And that slows down the economic recovery.



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