The last few months of jobs data from the US Labor Department paint a picture of a tight labor market, with the number of new jobs slowing down as unemployment fell to a long-term low. The department’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (or JOLTS report), released on Tuesday, shows that US employers posted more than 6 million job openings in April—the most since December 2000, when the government began tracking the data—but both hires and quits declined. The puzzling fall in the number of workers quitting their jobs may help explain why wages are not rising as fast as economists would expect in such a tight labor market, the Associated Press reports:
Some economists argue that slower pay raises suggest [employers] may not be so desperate after all. It’s easy to post jobs on a website, but employers may not follow through by recruiting more and offering higher pay. One trend supporting that view is a decline in the number of people quitting, which slipped 3.5 percent to 3.1 million in April. People typically quit when they either find a new job, usually at higher pay, or are confident they can soon find one.
For that number to fall at the same time employers are posting a record number of job openings suggests that not many people are being lured away from their current jobs by other companies dangling attractive pay. In other cases, companies in specific industries may be offering bigger paychecks, but those raises are being offset by other trends. With the workforce aging, higher-paid employees are retiring and being replaced by younger, lower-paid workers, which could depress overall wage growth.
A Career Fair in Florida (CityofStPete/Flickr/CC
July’s job openings report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics paint a very positive picture of the job market, Andrew Soergel writes at US News and World Report, showing the number of vacant positions at an all-time high:
American employers were looking to fill nearly 5.9 million open jobs that month – a notable gain from June’s 5.6 million vacancies. The month of July over the last few years has shaped up to be a strong one for openings, as July 2015’s tally of 5.79 million vacancies held the previous record.
Openings were spread widely across sectors, with typically well-paying professional and business services employers and health care outfits looking to recruit 1.27 million and 962,000 new workers, respectively. Retail trade and leisure and hospitality companies, meanwhile, were looking to fill 627,000 and 763,000 positions, respectively. …
Consumer strength is also evident in actual hiring, which climbed to its highest level since March. Employers brought on more than 5.2 million new workers in July – 20 percent of whom took up jobs in leisure and hospitality. Nearly 22 percent of July hires were in the professional and business services industries.
Gallup’s job creation index also stood at a post-recession high of +33 in August, the same at in May, June, and July:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report on job openings and labor turnover shows that there were 5.5 million unfilled jobs across the US in January, compared to 5.3 million in December 2015, SHRM’s Roy Maurer reports:
The report showed that 2.8 million people quit their jobs in January, while hires decreased from nearly 5.4 million in December 2015 to 5 million in January. The wholesale trade (+74,000) and construction (+61,000) industries reported some of the highest job openings in January, while new jobs decreased in educational services (-40,000).
“Overall, a good report,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management. “As always, the quits rate is an important number for HR professionals to follow because when it goes up, it can indicate that more employees are looking for new opportunities.” Quits fell in construction (-56,000); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-34,000); professional and business services (-80,000); and health care and social assistance (-49,000).
In related news, Sara Ashley O’Brien at CNN Money highlights another new report showing an increasing number of job openings at Silicon Vallley tech companies, despite investors anticipating the burst of the “unicorn” bubble: