U.S. employers had 9.3 million job openings available at the end of April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, the highest number recorded since the government started collecting the data in 2000.

Employers hired 6.1 million workers in April, according to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, a small increase from the 6 million hired in March.

At the same time, the rate of workers quitting jobs reached the highest level on record in April, while layoffs reached a series low.

Business concern: The new data, coupled with a mediocre May jobs report, is fueling business complaints of a labor shortage. The National Federation of Independent Business’ measure of small business optimism fell slightly last month, as nearly half of business owners reported being unable to find workers to fill job openings.

Where the jobs are: Openings in accommodation and food services — industries rocked by the coronavirus pandemic — saw the largest increase in new opportunities reported in April, followed by “other services” and manufacturing.

What it means: Economists say labor market tightness is giving workers more power in their job choices, especially in the hospitality industry.

“High quits mean workers feel comfortable leaving their jobs in search of better matches,” wrote Elise Gould, senior economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “Low layoffs are an obvious good. The economic recovery is gaining momentum.”

“The sectors leading the way in quitting are those where labor markets are already fairly tight or where hiring is ramping up: leisure and hospitality, transportation and warehousing, and retail trade,” added Nick Bunker, director of research at the hiring website Indeed.
Source: Politico
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