Jobs Report for August: What to Watch For

Caveats or not, wage growth matters. A lot.

When getting a receptionist job is harder than getting into Harvard

The job market varies radically depending on what someone does and where someone lives. In some job categories, it is not surprising that wages are not going up, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the online employment market site ZipRecruiter.

Such listings offer a glimpse of the mismatch between what employers are offering and what workers are seeking.

“In some occupations — typically those with low skill requirements and relatively pleasant working conditions — there is a huge oversupply of candidates,” Ms. Pollak said.

Over the past year on ZipRecruiter, for example, the roughly 68,500 postings for administrative assistants attracted more than 8.1 million applications, or 118 responses on average for every job. But the 136,000 jobs listed for warehouse workers got nearly 9.3 million applicants, or just 68 responses per job.

Geography, certainly, is critical. Lower-wage workers rarely move for jobs. Still, on average, Ms. Pollak said “it is harder (in some sense, at least) to get a job as an administrative assistant, receptionist or warehouse worker than it is to get into Harvard, with its relatively generous 5.2 percent acceptance rate” in 2017.

Severe labor shortages surround jobs demanding specialized skills, licensing requirements or tough working conditions. For the roughly 246,000 truck-driver listings on the site, there were 12 responses for each job, Ms. Pollak said. For the 237,000 skilled nursing jobs, there were nine responses on average.

Unionized jobs, with higher pay, steady hours and better benefits — such as baggage handlers at airports — are by far the most coveted, she said.