Job Openings and Quitting Hit Record Levels

September 13, 2018

The Labor Department (DOL) reported this week that U.S. employers advertised the most jobs on record in July, including in the manufacturing sector, while at the same time the number of workers quitting their jobs also set a new record.

DOL said from its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the number of job openings increased 1.7 percent in July to 6.9 million, the most since 2000, while the number of workers quitting their jobs jumped 3 percent to 3.58 million.

Economists say that job quits usually indicate that jobs are plentiful, because workers try to take advantage of a tight labor market to find new, often higher-paying jobs. With the unemployment rate near an 18-year low, more employers say they are finding it increasingly difficult to find and keep workers. Even as the number of available jobs rose, overall hiring in July was essentially flat, with about 5.7 million people finding jobs, the report showed.

The JOLTS report followed another DOL announcement that employers added 201,000 jobs in August. The jump in job openings in July from the JOLTS reports suggests that private sector hiring will continue in the coming months, even pushing some employers to pay more, pushing up wages. DOL’s jobs report noted that average hourly pay rose 2.9 percent in August compared with a year earlier.

“The JOLTS report, which lags one month behind other economic indicators, confirms what we’ve been hearing from ILMA members,” said ILMA CEO Holly Alfano. “Companies have raised wages and benefits over the past year to attract qualified candidates and retain employees, but they say there are limits to what they’re willing to do to fill open positions.”