Job Openings Rise, Outnumber Unemployed by 1 Million

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March 15, 2019

U.S. employers listed almost 7.6 million job openings in January, near the record high of 7.63 million in November, a sign that businesses are eager to hire more workers.

The Labor Department also said Friday that the number of people quitting their jobs is up, another sign of a healthy economy, because it indicates people are leaving their jobs for ones that typically pay better, the Associated Press reported.

The number of available jobs outnumbers the number of those unemployed by about one million. Last spring, job openings began to outpace the number of unemployed for the first time in the 18 years the data has been tracked.

The strong job market is having positive effects across the economy, the AP noted.

The strong job market is already pushing up wages more quickly, with hourly wages rising in February at the fastest pace in nine years.

The report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, also showed that layoffs declined, a reassuring sign that employers weren't spooked by the government shutdown, which ended Jan. 25, or the sharp drop in the stock market in December.

Nearly 3.5 million people quit their jobs in January, up 2.9 percent from the previous month. That could force employers to pay more to prevent their workers from quitting.

The economy grew at a rate of 2.9 percent last year, the fastest growth in four years. Although ongoing trade tensions with China have some economists concerned, the AP reported that most analysts still expect the job market to grow this year and wages to continue to increase.

"The question now is, will workers be increasingly tempted to switch to new jobs or will their current employers raise wages to keep them?" said Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, a job listings website.

Published under: Economy , Jobs , Trade