For US Workers, It's Quittin' Time


The U.S. labor market has reached another milestone: For the first time in decades, there are more job openings than unemployed Americans who could fill them.

The latest data arrived Tuesday with the Labor Department's monthly job openings report through the end of April. "This year is the first time the level of the unemployed exceeded the jobs available since the BLS started tracking JOLTS numbers in 2000", writes CNBC.

"This labor market is a headhunter's dream as no company can hire the skilled or unskilled workers they need without an employment agency working for them 24/7 scouring the country for anyone they can find", said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in NY.

The labor market is viewed as being either near or at full employment, with the jobless rate at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. In April, job-switchers saw their wages rise 4 percent, on average.

One of the reasons for this shortfall: The open jobs and the people looking for work aren't in the same place. At the peak of the recession, there were, on average, 6.7 unemployed people for each job.

The total number of job seekers, meanwhile, fell to 6.35 million in April, a slight decrease from March.

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The surest sign that employers were scrambling for workers would be steady pay gains, as businesses bid higher for the workers they need.

Martha Gimbel, director of economic research at job listing site Indeed, points out that pay increases for Americans who remain in their jobs are actually falling.

Job openings rose in professional and business services, which includes accountants, architects and engineers; manufacturing; and in hotels and restaurants.

The number of people quitting their jobs in April slipped just 1 percent from a record high in March to 3.4 million.

The total US labor force of employed and unemployed workers was 161.5 million in April.