US job openings at record, almost matching unemployed workers

Job seekers line up at TechFair in Los Angeles, California, March 8, 2018. — Reuters pic
Job seekers line up at TechFair in Los Angeles, California, March 8, 2018. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, May 8 — US job openings surged to a record in March, putting vacancies roughly on par with the number of unemployed workers, Labor Department data showed today.

Highlights of job openings (March)

Number of positions waiting to be filled rose by 472k to 6.55m (est. 6.1m) from upwardly revised 6.08m in Feb., acc. to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS Hiring fell to 5.43m from 5.51m; hiring rate unchanged at 3.7 per cent, 3.34m Americans quit their jobs, up from 3.21m; quits rate rose to 2.3 per cent from 2.2 per cent. Layoffs declined to 1.56m, lowest since Sept. 2016, from 1.62m

Key takeaways

The figures are in sync with a Labor Department report last week that showed demand for workers remains solid. Employers increased payrolls in April, pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.9 per cent, the lowest since December 2000, and March job gains were revised upward. Wage increases, though, remained tepid.

The increase in the quits rate, which is considered a measure of workers’ willingness to voluntarily leave because they’re confident of finding better employment, should be a positive for worker pay. Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring.

Other details

There was about one unemployed person per opening in March, compared with 1.9 people when the recession began at the end of 2007 Openings rose in sectors including construction, retail, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality; fell in manufacturing, finance and insurance In the 12 months through March, the economy created a net 2.3 million jobs, representing 65.6 million hires and 63.3 million separations. — Bloomberg

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