From JP Morgan:
Historically, a rise in the number of job openings has been accompanied by a fall in the unemployment rate as workers begin to fill the increasing number of available positions.
However, with house prices failing to recover any meaningful amount of their 32% peak-to-trough decline, the high (roughly 25%) proportion of households still in negative equity (i.e. owing more on their mortgage than the value of the house itself) represents a major constraint on labor mobility; underwater jobseekers are unable to sell up and move to other parts of the country to accept employment without taking a significant loss on their home value. Consequently, job openings are rising without a concurrent drop in the unemployment rate. Further downward pressure on house prices would only exacerbate this problem.
Despite Chairman Bernanke's non-committal language at last week's Jackson Hole central bankers' summit, this reinforces our view that the Fed will have to initiate another round of asset purchases before long to encourage Treasury and mortgage rates lower. But while lower borrowing costs may prove a marginal support for the economy, particularly by boosting discretionary income for homeowners who refinance their existing mortgages, more quantitative easing is unlikely to reverse the fundamental demand-supply imbalance in any short order. There is an old British saying that something highly secure or certain is 'safe as houses'. Paradoxically, housing looks increasingly like the U.S. economy's weakest link.