In November, there were 13.3 million unemployed workers, an improvement from 13.8 million in October (unemployment figures come from the Current Population Survey and can be found here). Therefore the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings was 4.2-to-1 in November, a slight improvement from the revised October ratio of 4.3-to-1.
To put this figure in context, the highest this ratio ever got in the early 2000s downturn was 2.8-to-1, and in December 2000, the month the JOLTS survey began, the ratio was 1.1-to-1. While the job-seekers ratio has slowly been improving since it peaked at 6.9-to-1 in the summer of 2009, today’s data release marks two years and 11 months—152 weeks—that the ratio has been above 4-to-1. A job-seekers ratio of more than 4-to-1 means that there are no jobs for more than three out of four unemployed workers, no matter what job seekers do.
EPI points out that the ratio means that cutting unemployment benefits remains a bad idea. It probably also means that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's move to restrict food stamps will also have pernicious effects.