Employers advertised 5.8 million jobs, up from 5.3 million in June and the highest on records dating to 2000, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The previous high was 5.4 million in May. Professional and business services added 122,000 openings; trade, transportation and utilities, 73,000; and leisure and hospitality, 69,000.
The number of hires slipped to 5 million from 5.2 million, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. As the unemployment rate falls to near-normal levels, many employers are struggling to find workers — a dilemma some economists attribute to mismatches between the skills of unemployed workers and employers’ needs.The jobless rate was 5.3% in July and dropped to 5.1% last month.
The number of people quitting jobs declined by 43,000 but remained at a solid 2.7 million. Quits typically indicate a healthy labor market in which workers feel confident enough to leave one job for another.
And in a sign that leverage is shifting to employees, there were just 1.4 unemployed workers for each job opening in July, down from 6.7 workers per opening in 2009.
Despite the tightening market, growth in average hourly earnings has remained modest, though it ticked up to 2.2% annually in August from 2% in June, perhaps signaling a coming acceleration. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, expects annual wage growth to increase to about 2.5% by the end of the year.
The Federal Reserve is seeking signs of faster wage growth as it considers raising its benchmark interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade at its policy meeting next week.
Wednesday’s report “might just take the (Fed) one step closer to raising rates at next week’s policy meeting,” RDQ Economics wrote in a note to clients.
Labor reported Friday that employers added a solid 245,000 jobs in July, revising up its previous estimate by 30,000.