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August 8, 2017 12:30 PM, EDT
Job Openings Surge to Record in Sign of Robust Labor Demand
McDonald's is Hiring Mr. Blue MauMau/Flickr

A June surge in U.S. job openings to a record indicates demand for workers remained strong at the end of the second quarter, a Labor Department report showed Aug 8.

Highlights of Job Openings

• Number of positions rose by 461,000, most in almost two years, to 6.163 million (estimated 5.75 million) from upwardly revised 5.702 million in May.

• Hiring fell to 5.36 million from 5.46 million; hiring rate held at 3.7%.

3.13 million Americans quit their jobs, down from 3.21m; quits rate fell to 2.1% from 2.2%.

• Layoffs up slightly to 1.7 million from 1.67 million.

Key Takeaways

The gain in job openings underscores the need for workers in an economy that’s continuing to expand. At the same time, the pool of qualified Americans is shrinking and making some positions tougher to fill, one reason economists expect the monthly pace of hiring will eventually cool.

July figures released last week showed payrolls increased more than forecast while the unemployment rate matched a 16-year low, as Americans came off the sidelines to join the labor force and many found work.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report also showed fewer people quitting their jobs, considered a gauge of workers’ willingness to voluntarily leave because they’re confident of finding a better job.

That indicates faster wage growth, which has remained elusive in recent years, may still take time to materialize. The quits rate, which remains near its post-recession high, is among indicators of labor-market slack that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen monitors.

Other Details

• There were 1.1 unemployed people vying for every opening in June, down from 1.9 people when the recession began at the end of 2007.

• Most industries showed a pickup in openings, including record postings for health care and social assistance and gains for professional and business services; retail showed a decline.

• In the 12 months through June, the economy created a net 2.3 million jobs, representing 63.4 million hires and 61.1 million separations.

• 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.