Job openings hit record high as job seekers dwindle

Posted May 09, 2018

Job openings surged to a record 6.55 million in March, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, May 8.

Companies say they have jobs to fill.

Analysts had forecast 6.1mn openings, and the prior month's reading was revised upward to 6.08mn.

That's not the same as saying, of course, that every unemployed worker out there will qualify for one of these vacancies.

Some data suggests workers are earning more: One measure of wages and salaries rose in the first three months of the year by the most in 11 years. The job opening rate, or the number of open jobs as a share of employment, rose to 4.2% from 3.9% a month earlier-also a record. Wages rose at almost a 4.5 percent clip the last time the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent.

So where are all the job openings? Job listings also jumped in education, professional services like accounting, retail, hotels and restaurants, and shipping and warehousing. In March, that rate fell to 1 unemployed for every job opening. But now, with wage gains sluggish, employers may be willing to post jobs because they don't need to pay so much. Yet overall hiring slipped, while quits increased.

With rising vacancies nearly helping to close the gap with the ranks of the unemployed, the job market is increasingly tight. That's leaving more jobs unfilled and lifting openings.

In addition, workers may be reluctant to relocate to where the jobs are, or to accept a position with lower pay or in a different field, for example. "The majority of workers who voluntarily change jobs receive a pay bump, generating stronger wage growth for job switchers". Workers typically quit when they have other jobs lined up, or are confident they can find one. That's a sign job-switching could be recovering.