June’s open jobs rise 8 percent to record 6.2 million
WASHINGTON — U.S. employers posted a record number of open jobs in June, the Labor Department said Tuesday, a sign that the solid hiring of recent months likely will continue.
Job openings jumped 8 percent to 6.2 million, the highest on records dating back to 2000. Hiring fell, however, and the number of people quitting their jobs also dropped.
The data suggest that employers have plenty of jobs to fill but are struggling to find the qualified workers they need. Typically, employers would offer higher pay to entice more applicants, accelerating wage growth. But the government’s jobs report for July, released Friday, showed that pay gains haven’t picked up yet.
Job openings in construction and manufacturing rose sharply. They also increased in financial services, health care, and in state and local government. The number of open jobs in retail fell.
The report comes after the government said Friday that employers added 209,000 jobs in July and revised its June figure higher to 231,000. Friday’s figures represent a net total of jobs added minus jobs lost, while Tuesday’s report includes overall hiring data.
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 figures.
The survey suggests that the economy is at or near “full employment,” when nearly everyone who wants a job has one and the unemployment rate mostly reflects the temporary churn of job losses and gains.
If so, that has implications for the Federal Reserve: Businesses would be forced to lift pay and potentially raise their prices to cover the cost of higher salaries if the economy is at full employment.
That could spur inflation. Fed policymakers have been raising short-term interest rates partly because they mostly think full- employment has been reached.
Yet on Friday, the government’s jobs report showed that many Americans have come off the sidelines and started job hunts in the past year, and most have found jobs. These newly employed workers weren’t actively looking for jobs in previous months and so weren’t counted as unemployed.
That is a sign that more Americans are willing to work than the unemployment rate suggests and indicates the economy isn’t at full employment yet.
According to Tuesday’s jobs report, in the 12 months through June, the economy created a net 2.3 million jobs. That represents 63.4 million hires and 61.1 million separations.
The view of many chief executive officers is that there aren’t any good workers left. Over half of small-business owners in America say there are “few or no qualified applicants” for the jobs they have open right now, according to the latest NFIB Small Business Survey.
“The demand for qualified
warm bodies remains healthy, but the supply of them remains stunted,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group in Virginia. He points out that over 18 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 aren’t working. That’s almost 1 in 5 people in that “prime age” category. It wasn’t like that in the boom times of the 1990s and early 2000s. There would be about 2.5 million more prime age workers employed today if the same percentage of Americans were working now as in the 1990s.
But workers also have a message for CEOs: Pay more. Wages are barely growing. Companies have to pay up if they want better talent. During the recession, there were almost seven unemployed people for every job opening. Businesses could afford to be choosy — and offer low salaries. Today, the situation is dramatically different. There’s only one job seeker for every opening. Experts keep forecasting that wages will rise. This kind of “tight labor market” should
trigger fatter paychecks for workers, but so far, that isn’t happening.
“When businesses give this anecdotal evidence that they can’t find the workers they want, the first thing I would ask them is: Have you increased your pay?” said economist Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.