More U.S. job openings reported than unemployed Americans

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The number of available jobs exceeded the number of unemployed US workers for the first time since records were kept for this statistic 18 years ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported June 5.

There were 6.59 million unemployed workers in March and even fewer, 6.35 million in April, according to the Labor Department's monthly report on job openings and labor turnover, also known as JOLTS. For the first time in at least 20 years, there are now more job openings than there are people looking for work.

Steady economic growth has encouraged employers to step up hiring.

The data showed that the job opening rate was 4.3 percent in April while the number of hires was little changed at 5.6 million. As the chart shows, the quits rate for government employees averaged just 0.8% through April, which matches the highs of the previous expansion, and is up from a low 0.4% as of May 2009.

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Partly for that reason, the amount of time it takes for the median unemployed person to find their next job is still almost 10 weeks, above the historical average. But in December 2000, near the peak of the late 1990s boom, they were receiving raises of 6.5 per cent. In the three months through April, an average of more than 3.1 million workers, or 2.5% of the total, quit.

The sharpest increase in openings in April was in a category called professional and business services, which includes a range of occupations, from accountants, architects and engineers.

"That is really astonishing to me at this point in the recovery", Gimbel said.

The surest sign that employers were scrambling for workers would be steady pay gains, as businesses bid higher for the workers they need. "That just signals that employers are not anxious about their employees being poached".

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