As Job Openings Reach Unprecedented Levels, So Does Quitting

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers advertised the most jobs on record in July, and the number of workers quitting their jobs also hit a new all-time high.

Americans are increasingly taking advantage of a tight labor market to find new, often higher-paying jobs.

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The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of job openings rose 1.7 percent to 6.9 million, the most on record dating back to late 2000. The number of people quitting jumped 3 percent to 3.58 million, also a record.

With the unemployment rate near an 18-year low of 3.9 percent, businesses are increasingly desperate to find workers. Even as the number of available jobs rose, overall hiring was essentially flat, the report showed.

Still, last month employers added a healthy 201,000 jobs in August, according to the government's monthly jobs report, released Friday. The jump in job openings in July suggests solid hiring will continue.

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With the economy growing at a healthy clip and consumers spending freely, employers are optimistic about future demand and want to hire more. That appears to be finally pushing some employers to pay more, pushing up wages.

According to Friday's jobs report, average hourly pay rose 2.9 percent in August compared with a year earlier. That was the best annual gain since June 2009, when the Great Recession ended.

A more dynamic job market, with more people quitting and finding new work, can help fuel better wage gains. Workers who switch jobs are getting raises roughly one-third larger than those who remain at their jobs, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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Openings rose in manufacturing, finance and insurance, and hotels and restaurants. They fell in retail and in education and health.

– by Christopher Rugaber, AP reporter

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