What does “the tightening job market” mean? At first, I assumed it meant very hard for the jobseekers to get a job but it seems like the opposite meaning in this context. Please help me.

ZARROLI: Mortensen says he pays well above minimum wage, and he's willing to train people. And he says not having enough workers actually costs him business. He can't serve as many customers as he'd like. The United States has been in a period of almost historic job growth. The unemployment rate is at a very low 4.1 percent. Economist Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says the tightening labor market is beginning to provide real benefits for workers.

DEAN BAKER: We've actually seen some wage growth at the middle and the bottom of the income ladder, and that's a huge, huge deal.

ZARROLI: And Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, says the U.S. has almost achieved that elusive goal of having a full-employment economy.

JASON FURMAN: If you look at the labor market employment data, it really looks like we're there.

ZARROLI: But Furman says he is puzzled by the pace of wage growth. Wages spiked up at an annual rate of 2.9 percent last month. But if the job market were really tight, he says, they'd be even higher.

This is from NPR: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/09/584640337/despite-tumultuous-stock-market-some-economists-say-inflation-threat-is-exaggera

Thank you so much.

  • @FumbleFingers Thank you so much for your clear explanation. Have a good day! Feb 13, 2018 at 14:20
  • @FumbleFingers that would have been a good answer.
    – lbf
    Feb 13, 2018 at 14:25
  • @lbf: It was obviously acceptable as an "answer" to the OP, which is fine. But I wouldn't post it as an "Answer" for posterity here on ELU, because it was so trivial to google that clear definition. Feb 13, 2018 at 14:36
  • @FumbleFingers Well, I know the definition of labor market but only thought it in the perspective of job seekers. I googled it too and found the same answer as what I thought at first so I asked here. Thanks anyway. Feb 13, 2018 at 15:07
  • @Mango: I never intended to imply that you personally were "at fault" for asking the question (I'm sure it's much harder to resolve these "From whose perspective?" questions when you're already struggling with language / cultural differences anyway). Going further in that general direction, you might be interested in Difference between will and shall on ELU - particularly, as regards what I will do (my perspective, my "will"), and what you shall do (whether you want to or not, so not really "from your perspective"). Feb 13, 2018 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


Tight, referring to labor market, means that unemployment rate is low and as a consequence the are more open job positions than workers available.

Labor market definition:

An area of economic exchange in which workers seek jobs and employers seek workers. A “tight” labor market has more jobs than workers. In a “slack” labor market, the reverse is true.

(The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)


Tightening Labour Market:

This means that unemployment is falling and there are few job vacancies available. The decline in job vacancies tends to push up wages as firms find it more difficult to recruit workers.


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