Job openings in June hit a 13-year high

08/12/2014 11:18 AM

08/12/2014 3:52 PM

More job openings were posted in June than in any month since February 2001, according to government statistics reported Tuesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, said 4.67 million jobs were vacant in June, up 2.1 percent from May’s 4.58 million.

The report also said hiring rose in June to 4.83 million from 4.74 million in May, but the hiring rate hasn’t grown as rapidly as the job vacancy rate.

Job openings have mushroomed 17.6 percent in the last year compared with a 9.3 percent increase in the hiring rate, according to the JOLTS report.

JOLTS numbers are closely watched by economists as well as the Federal Reserve as indicators of business health and employers’ expansion plans. More job advertisements imply business growth.

The imbalance between job vacancy and hiring rates, though, could suggest continued caution about the economy. Or it could indicate that employers aren’t finding the right skills to fill their openings. It could also suggest that job hunters aren’t interested in the positions or pay offered for the openings.

“On a trend basis, job openings are increasing at a pace faster than hires,” said Maninder Sibia, economist with Contingent Macro Advisors. “Across all industries, net hiring was still positive.”

The report also said that 1.8 percent of workers voluntarily quit their jobs in June and 1.2 percent were laid off or discharged. The overall “separations” rate of 3.3 percent was unchanged from May. The hires rate of 3.5 percent also was little changed, the bureau said.

The JOLTS data showed that private-sector job openings rose by 74,000 in June and public-sector jobs rose by 20,000. The latter generally is considered a good economic signal in that budget-cutting government offices had been shedding workers throughout the recession and post-recession period.

The openings, hires and quit rates were highest in the predictable high-turnover leisure and hospitality industries, but similar high marks also showed up in professional and business services, indicating more turnover in office environments.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com.

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