<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Mark Whitehouse</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>Here&#x2019;s another bit of evidence for anyone wondering whether the U.S. government's near-collision with its debt ceiling this summer had a meaningful effect on business confidence: Employers ratcheted back their efforts to fill available jobs in July.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>Employers had jobs to offer. The total number of job openings stood at 3.23 million at the end of July, from 3.17 million a month earlier, the Labor Department reported today. But the jobs were filled at a slower pace. Total hires fell to 3.98 million, from 4.06 million in June.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>Why the slowdown? Possible explanations include so-called structural problems. The job openings might have required skills potential candidates didn&#x2019;t have, or might have been in places they couldn&#x2019;t go.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>More likely, though, employers started dragging their feet on filling jobs. That, at least, is the conclusion suggested by am indicator known as the "recruiting intensity" index. The index -- developed by economists Steven Davis, Jason Faberman and John Haltiwanger -- captures a number of factors that influence hiring, such as how aggressively employers seek candidates and how quickly they screen applicants.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>We updated the index with the latest data and found that it fell 1.4 percent in July. The level was up a bit from its low point in October 2009, but still 16% below its pre-recession average (see chart). Given the fact that the debt-ceiling debate was reaching its apex in July, and the stock market hadn&#x2019;t yet plunged, the result supports the hypothesis that political uncertainty did have a negative impact on jobs.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>The congressional supercommittee, charged with finding another $1.5 trillion in further deficit reduction by the end of this year, is scheduled to hold its first meeting tomorrow. Let&#x2019;s hope its members are aware of the destructive power they wield.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>(Mark Whitehouse is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board)</p> </body> </html>