US Businesses Now Open to Hiring More Than 6-M Workers
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US employers ramped up their demand for workers in January, advertising 6.3-M jobs at the end of the month, the most on records dating back 17 years.
The Labor Department says the number of job opening soared 645,000 in January, the largest 1-month increase in 2.5 years. The number of people hired ticked up and fewer Americans quit in January compared with the prior month.
The huge demand for workers comes as the unemployment rate is already at a 17-year low of 4.1%. The report shows that overall hiring increased by a much smaller amount than job openings, suggesting that employers are having difficulty finding the workers they need. That may raise pressure on companies to increase pay in the coming months to attract more applicants.
The data could fuel debates about whether a “skills gap” has made it harder for companies to fill open positions.
Business groups argue that many jobs, particularly in manufacturing, administrative work, and IT (information technology), require greater or different skill sets than in the past, and not enough workers have them.
The report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, shows that job openings surged nearly 16% in January compared with a year earlier. Yet the number of jobs getting filled rose just 2.3%, to 5.6-M in January.
In a study released this week revealed that skills gaps exist in some specific occupations and industries, but for different reasons.
In IT there are 17% more jobs open than there are available workers. That is partly because demand in relatively new fields, such as cybersecurity and “big data” analysis, have exploded in recent years. Training programs have been slow to ramp up and teach the new, complex skills needed.
Many of those jobs also combine certain skills, such as software development and business analysis skills.
Training for such “hybrid jobs” is more complicated and less available than for more straightforward jobs, the US Chamber of Commerce sponsored the research study.
But many employers now demand 4-year college degrees for specific jobs, narrowing the number of prospective applicants.
This “Upskilling” grew during the slow recovery from the Great Recession, when employers had a much broader pool of workers to choose from. But with the unemployment rate at 4.1% businesses may have to take a flexible approach.
Friday, the major US stock market indexes finished at: DJIA +72.85 at 24946.51, NAS Comp +0.25 at 7481.98, S&P 500 +4.68 at 2752.01
Volume: Trade on the NYSE was heavy coming in at: 2.5-B/shares exchanged
- NAS Comp +8.4% YTD
- S&P 500 +2.9% YTD
- DJIA +0.9% YTD
- Russell 2000 +3.3% YTD
Have a terrific St. Patrick’s Day!