empty desk syndrome costs billionsA study from online job resource Indeed has found that Empty Desk Syndrome, the business phenomenon where an employee departs with no plans for filling the position, is costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars per year.

“The economic costs of unfilled jobs [represent] a staggering loss of nearly $160 billion [in the U.S.] annually,” Indeed reports. “Of this amount, over half represent unearned wages (around 55 percent), with the remainder attributed to unearned profits. For the top 10 companies in Dow Jones Index, the combined cost of not filling open jobs for one month equals more than $75 million in monthly gross domestic product.”

“Failure to effectively resource a business slows both productivity and profits, relying on existing workers to cover skill shortages by working more hours under increased pressure. From a consumer perspective, the inability to earn an income or spend a salary reduces an individual’s contributions to overall economic growth,” continued Indeed. “While total employment has now almost caught up to its pre-recessionary peak with over 2 million jobs being created in the first nine months of 2014, labor market participation has fallen to its lowest level in decades. A large number of unfilled, open roles may well cause problems for the economy in the years ahead.”

Other findings from the study include:

  • 33 percent of openings in the U.S. remain open for at least three months.
  • Empty desk syndrome extracts a higher price from such industries as finance, insurance and professional services due to the higher levels of contributed economic value.
  • For states and industries which can achieve reductions in the time it takes businesses to fill job vacancies, there are significant economic gains to be made by better matching the right people to the right jobs.

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