Hir­ing, quit­ting on the rise; wages re­main slug­gish.

But hir­ing, quit­ting on the rise; wages re­main slug­gish

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JOSH BOAK

WASHINGTON — U.S. em­ploy­ers posted fewer job open­ings in May. But hir­ing picked up and more peo­ple are quit­ting their jobs — both pos­i­tive signs for the econ­omy.

Job open­ings fell 5 per­cent in May to 5.7 mil­lion, the La­bor Depart­ment said Tues­day. The set­back oc­curred af­ter ad­ver­tised job post­ings nearly reached 6 mil­lion in April, a fig­ure that has been re­vised down­ward from the ini­tial re­port. Mean­while, hir­ing climbed 8.5 per­cent to just un­der 5.5 mil­lion.

The data are a sign that the econ­omy at 4.4 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment is near­ing “full em­ploy­ment,” when nearly all those who want a job have one and the un­em­ploy­ment rate mostly re­flects the nor­mal churn of peo­ple who are tem­po­rar­ily out of work. Typ­i­cally, when un­em­ploy­ment falls that low, com­pa­nies are forced to of­fer more pay, but that hasn’t yet hap­pened.

Jed Kolko, an econ­o­mist at the jobs site In­deed, said the re­port “shows what work­ers do in a tight la­bor mar­ket” in which there are more quits than lay­offs and fewer un­em­ployed work­ers for each job open­ing.

Work­ers have cer­tainly be­come more con­fi­dent in the past year that they can find jobs.

The num­ber of peo­ple quit­ting their jobs has in­creased 7.1 per­cent to 3.2 mil­lion. Peo­ple usu­ally quit when they ei­ther find a new job, of­ten at higher pay, or are con­fi­dent they can soon be hired else­where. But even then, Kolko said, the level of churn re­flected by peo­ple get­ting hired or leav­ing their jobs has been lower than it was in the early 2000s, which is con­sis­tent with the rel­a­tively slow wage gains.

Fewer help-wanted signs in May were pos­si­bly a sig­nal that some hir­ing man­agers are await­ing more clar­ity on tax changes and the fis­cal pol­icy out­look be­fore ex­pand­ing em­ploy­ment.

May job open­ings fell by a mean­ing­ful amount in con­struc­tion and trans­porta­tion,

● ware­hous­ing and util­i­ties. Ad­ver­tis­ing open­ings in­creased for re­tail­ers and ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices.

Hir­ing was most ro­bust in the pro­fes­sional and busi­ness ser­vices sec­tor in May, as well as ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices.

When un­em­ploy­ment is this low, wages gen­er­ally rise. But av­er­age hourly earn­ings have in­creased just 2.5 per­cent

over the past 12 months, stay­ing ahead of in­fla­tion but hardly a sub­stan­tial pay in­crease. The last time the un­em­ploy­ment rate was this low, wages were ris­ing by about 4 per­cent.

The gov­ern­ment said Fri­day that em­ploy­ers added 222,000 jobs in June, and it re­vised the pre­vi­ous two months’ hir­ing fig­ures up­ward.

Fri­day’s fig­ures rep­re­sent a net to­tal of jobs added mi­nus jobs lost, while Tues­day’s

re­port in­cludes over­all hir­ing data.

Those fig­ures are net gains af­ter lay­offs, quits and re­tire­ments are sub­tracted from over­all hir­ing.

Tues­day’s data come from the Job Open­ings and La­bor Turnover sur­vey. They are more de­tailed and pro­vide a fuller view of the job mar­ket than the monthly jobs re­port.

AP/SUE OGROCKI

A sign in a Wal-Mart park­ing lot in Ok­la­homa City an­nounces job open­ings in a May file photo. Job open­ings fell 5 per­cent in May to 5.7 mil­lion, the La­bor Depart­ment said.

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