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U.S. Job Openings Reach Record High

Business, Featured

Job applicants waiting for interviews | Image by fizkes

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U.S. job openings reached 11.5 million by the end of March after a record 4.5 million employees quit their jobs that month, employers reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The Labor Department released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary on May 3 as employers continue to contend with filling job vacancies and are called upon to raise wages during what has been termed “The Great Resignation.”

In a news release issued by BLS on April 1, there were 6 million people unemployed in the country in March. This means that for each unemployed person, there are 1.92 jobs available.

The report estimates the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations in all non-farming industries as well as further breaks down the numbers by geographical region and size of business establishment.

The BLS said the number of job openings, which rose by 205,000 in March, was at the highest level it has ever been since the department began the series in 2000.

According to the report, hiring was down by 95,000 to 6.7 million in March as the job openings rate reached 7.1%, up from 7% the previous month.

The report shows job openings increased in the South but decreased in the West, Midwest, and Northeast.

In March, the job openings rate increased for mid-sized to larger businesses with 50-249 employees and 250-999 employees. However, the number of job openings fell for small companies with 10-49 employees.

Report data shows job openings increased in retail trade, up 155,000, and in durable goods manufacturing, up 50,000. The number of open positions decreased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities, down 69,000.

Openings in state and local government education were also down by 43,000, and federal government openings by 20,000.

“The persistent difficulty that employers have in filling positions will push wages higher and spur employers to automate operations or find other efficiencies to make do with smaller staffs,” Sophia Koropeckyj, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania, told Reuters.

“These challenges will only grow as more baby boomers leave the labor force. Companies will open operations in parts of the country with more available workers or at least will rely more on remote workers who reside in areas with better demographics,” she predicted.

Total separations were up in March by 239,000, hitting 6.3 million. The number of workers who quit their jobs rose by 152,000 to 4.5 million. According to the data, more than 88,000 employees in professional and business services and over 69,000 construction workers quit their jobs that month.

In addition to those who voluntarily left their positions, 1.4 million were laid off, terminated, or quit due to retirement, death, disability, or a transfer to another company location.

The report shows little change in all four regions for layoffs and discharges in March, keeping the rate at 0.9% with an increase of over 12,000 open positions in construction and over 11,000 in the transportation, warehousing, and utility industries.

The report shows that the quits rate declined for businesses with 1,000-4,999 employees while the total separations rate increased for establishments with 250-999 employees.

Year over year, hires totaled 77.7 million, and separations totaled 71.4 million, leaving a net employment gain of 6.3 million.

“When the number of hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining,” the release states. “Conversely, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if hires level is steady or rising.”     

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