Job open­ings dip just a bit

De­mand for la­bor still hasn’t trans­lated into rapid pay hikes

The Dallas Morning News - - Economy & You - Christo­pher Rugaber, The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASHINGTON — U.S. em­ploy­ers are ad­ver­tis­ing near-record lev­els of job open­ings, though the to­tal slipped in Au­gust from July.

Job open­ings fell 0.9 per­cent in Au­gust to just un­der 6.1 mil­lion, the La­bor Depart­ment said Wednesday, from 6.14 mil­lion in the pre­vi­ous month. July’s fig­ure was re­vised slightly lower but is still the largest num­ber of avail­able jobs since records be­gan in De­cem­ber 2000.

Job open­ings have risen as the num­ber of un­em­ployed has fallen to the low­est in a decade. The un­em­ploy­ment rate, cur­rently 4.2 per­cent, has hit a 16-year low. That has left busi­nesses strug­gling to fill open jobs.

Even so, av­er­age wage growth has been slug­gish, sug­gest­ing that companies aren’t of­fer­ing suf­fi­ciently healthy pay to en­tice work­ers al­ready em­ployed to switch jobs.

Companies also pulled back slightly on hir­ing, and the num­ber of peo­ple quit­ting their jobs also fell a bit. Over­all, the re­port sug­gests the job market was healthy but a lit­tle less ac­tive in Au­gust.

The gov­ern­ment re­ported last week that Hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Irma caused em­ploy­ers to shed 33,000 jobs in Septem­ber. Still, the un­em­ploy­ment rate fell from 4.4 per­cent to 4.2 per­cent, as many Amer­i­cans in parts of the coun­try un­af­fected by the storms found work. The pro­por­tion of Amer­i­cans with jobs rose to the high­est level in a decade.

The two hur­ri­canes are ex­pected to dent eco­nomic growth in the July-Septem­ber quar­ter, but most econ­o­mists fore­cast a bounce-back in the fi­nal three months of the year. Re­build­ing and re­pair work should boost con­struc­tion hir­ing. And au­tomak­ers are al­ready re­port­ing higher sales as res­i­dents of Texas and Florida re­place cars de­stroyed by flood­ing.

Job open­ings rose in Au­gust in con­struc­tion, re­tail and health care. They fell in man­u­fac­tur­ing and in pro­fes­sional and busi­ness ser­vices, a broad cat­e­gory that in­cludes ac­coun­tants, en­gi­neers and lawyers, as well as tem­po­rary work­ers.

Alan Diaz/The As­so­ci­ated Press

Job seek­ers checked in at a job fair in Sweet­wa­ter, Fla., last week. Job open­ings rose in Au­gust in con­struc­tion, re­tail and health care. They fell in man­u­fac­tur­ing and in pro­fes­sional and busi­ness ser­vices.

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