The number of job openings in the U.S. hit a seven-year high in April, reflecting a labor market drawing strength from the nation’s economic recovery.
U.S. employers were looking to fill 4.46 million open positions in April, more than any month since September 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) Tuesday. The U.S. economy officially sank into recession in December of that year.
There were 289,000 more job openings in April than the previous month. The Labor Department said Tuesday it had revised the statistics for March to show 4.17 million job openings that month, rather than the 4.01 million the department previously reported.
There are currently 631,000 more job openings in the U.S. than there were at this point last year.
Meanwhile, there were only about 2,000 more new hires in the month of April, according to the Labor Department, leaving the hiring rate unchanged at 3.4% for the third month in a row.
The rates for both layoffs (1.2%) and people quitting their jobs (1.8%) also remained relatively unchanged in April. There were a total of 13,000 more layoffs that month than in March, while 12,000 more people quit their jobs in April than the previous month. An increase in the number of people quitting their jobs is generally seen as a positive for the health of the labor market, as it suggests those people are confident they can find a new job.
The JOLTS figures are used as an indicator of the health of the labor market and are among the economic measures that are routinely monitored by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The good news on job openings follows the Labor Department’s announcement last week that the U.S. economy officially recovered all 8.7 million jobs that were lost during the recession. The nation added 217,000 jobs in May to reach the milestone, though the unemployment rate remained unchanged last month at 6.3% and U.S. employment still needs to catch up with the growth of the population and labor force that has occurred since the recession began.
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