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Job openings reach a five-month high, but they're still not being filled. Why? They're in person

Many people are still hesitant to leave home, leaving employers struggling to fill positions.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Data from the labor department show job openings are bouncing back, just hitting a five-month high.

But most of those jobs are in person and many people are still hesitant to leave home, leaving employers struggling to fill positions.

“There's this huge gap between the supply of remote opportunities and the demand for them," Julia Pollock, a labor economist for job site Ziprecruiter, said. 

“Job postings have now recovered to their pre-COVID highs, and employers are looking for candidates quite feverishly in our marketplace," Pollock said. "But many of those jobs require working in person. 60% of job seekers on Ziprecruiter right now are looking for remote opportunities, but only about 9% of the job postings explicitly offer that opportunity.”

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She said that’s creating a worrisome job gap. Employers are struggling to fill in-person positions, and job seekers are unable to find work they feel safe doing.

Pollock said employers should offer flexibility wherever possible, and be clear about COVID-19 safety protocols in their listings.

She also suggests job seekers cast a wider net and be willing to try new things.

“There are whole industries that will take a long time to recover," she said. "So many people in those industries need to find new things that they can do in the meanwhile, that use their strengths and talents and other ways.”

But there’s hope on the horizon.

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Economists and experts widely agree this job gap will self-correct eventually.

"There is reason to believe that will fix itself in the next couple of months because more than half of the people who would prefer remote work now would actually prefer in-person jobs after the pandemic is over," Pollock explained.

“COVID cases are down across the country," she said. "And vaccination rates are accelerating across the country, too. So it's possible that we could have an almost normal summer again."