U.S. job openings hit record high


Data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Tuesday show that job openings hit a new record in July. In June, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) found that the total number of job vacancies exceeded six million for the first time since such data began to be collected in 2000.

According to the BLS, the number of positions available rose by 54,000 to 6.17 million – compared to 6.12 million in June – while 5.5 million jobs were created that month. Rising job opening numbers suggest that businesses are doing well and are on the lookout for additional staff to expand.

The number of job openings rose in various sectors including services (+111,000); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+70,000); and education (+26,000). The number of job openings however dropped by 72,000 in health care and social assistance, by 46,000 in state and local government (educational services are counted separately), and by 21,000 in federal government.

The pace of hiring was also up that month with 5.501 million jobs created, up 69,000 compared to the previous month.

Businesses are finding it harder and harder to recruit individuals who possess the skills they are looking for, hence the huge difference between the number of available jobs (6.17 million) and the actual number of hires (5.501 million). However, more and more companies now accept that they need to provide training to tackle this skill shortage.

The JOLTS data also reveals that workers continue to be confident that they will find better jobs as highlighted by the number of individuals voluntarily leaving their employers (the so-called separation rate). The level of quits in July increased from 3.13 million to 3.164 million compared to the previous month while the number of layoffs and discharges reached 1.8 million. While this number remained stable at state and local government levels, it rose at the federal government level (+9,000).

Between August 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017 a total of 61.5 million workers quit their jobs while 63.6 million were hired over the same period. This amounts to 2.1 million job creations.

Finally, the seasonally-adjusted official unemployment rate (U-3) has been falling since President Trump entered the White House in January. As shown below, it remains under the 4.5-percent mark.