The education and health services sector alone employs 22 million Americans, or about 16 percent of all employees in the United States. The gap between openings and hires in the sector has been growing, and is now at least 10 times bigger than it was at the end of the recession.
Four other private sectors—manufacturing, professional and business services, information and financial activities—also reported more openings than hires, but the changes were less dramatic. Five other sectors still report fewer openings than hires, suggesting that worker supply is meeting demand in construction, retail, hospitality and mining.
Overall, jobs in education and health services accounted for about 19 percent of the 5.4 million job openings in the U.S. in April, but only 12 percent of the hires. That's 400,000 more advertised jobs than filled positions, compared to a net of about 370,000 for the U.S. as a whole. So most of the new negative gap can be attributed to the shortfall in this one part of the economy.
Much of the widening of the gap has happened since the beginning of 2014, which corresponds to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which requires that most Americans have health insurance. But even without that boost, the health care and social assistance sector has been booming, with employment growing by 25 percent in the last decade, compared to 6 percent for the economy overall.
"With the baby boomers advancing in age, they need everything from a specialist all the way down to home health-care aids," said Charlotte Oslund, a BLS statistician. "The demand is there."