Hiring in US Hits Record Highs

US job openings fell a bit in April as hiring surged to a record high, government data showed Monday.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, slipped to a seasonally adjusted 7.4-M from 7.5-M in March, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS.

The job openings rate was unchanged at 4.7%.  The quits rate held at 2.3%, matching the highest mark of the economic expansion and suggesting workers remain confident in their ability to find a job.

Hiring jumped by 240,000 jobs in April to 5.9-M, the highest mark since the government started tracking the series in Y 2000. The hiring rate increased to 3.9% from 3.8% in March.

The US economy created 75,000 jobs in May after adding 224,000 in April, the government reported last Friday. The unemployment rate was unchanged near a 50-yr low at 3.6%.

Key Takeaways

  • Total vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed Americans by 1.63-M, a record in data since Y 2000. That may support the idea that part of the reason behind May’s hiring slowdown owed to employers’ difficulty finding qualified workers amid the lowest jobless rate in 50 years.
  • Openings could fall in coming months as slowing economic growth and uncertainty around President Trump’s trade policies lead companies to postpone hiring and investment decisions.
  • Labor Department figures released Friday showed US employers added 75,000 jobs in May, the fewest in three months, after a downwardly revised though still-strong 224,000 advance in April. The four-month average gain was the slowest since Y 2012, suggesting the labor market is showing signs of strain.
  • The quits rate has held at 2.3% since June 2018. The most recent report showed 3.48-M Americans left their jobs, up slightly from the prior month. Fed officials watch the rate for signs of upward pressure on worker pay that may feed into inflation.
  • Hiring edged up to 5.9-M while separations also climbed, to 5.58-M
  • Total hires rose to a record high as construction and education and health services reached new peaks. Manufacturing, which has faced headwinds from slowing global growth and trade tensions, saw openings match a record 501,000. At the same time, professional and business services saw the fewest postings in almost a year.
  • Openings fell in 3 of 4 regions, while those in the Midwest rose a 2nd month.
  • Although it lags a month behind other Labor Department data, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly employment figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and hiring.

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