U.S. job openings fall in May, but employers increase hiring
WASHINGTON» U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in May. But hiring picked up and more people are quitting their jobs — 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 is a sign 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 job each opening. The number of people quitting their jobs has increased 7.1 percent to 3.2 million. But even then, Kolko said that 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.
May job openings fell by a meaningful amount in construction and transportation, warehousing and utilities. Hiring was most robust in the professional and business services sector, as well as educational services.