The March 2019 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) paints the picture of an increasingly tight labor market, with employers struggling to fill open roles and confident workers looking for their next great opportunity.
Up 346,000 in March, job openings hit 7.48 million overall, led by record-setting highs in construction, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and state and local government education.
1. The gap between job openings and unemployed Americans widened to 1.27 million, marking the 13th straight month with more available jobs than people out of work.
While this is a great sign for workers looking to advance their careers, it does mean employers are struggling to fill open roles. This could negatively affect productivity if the lack of available talent on the market keeps employers from growing.
2. Layoffs and discharges were extremely low, by historical standards, and nearly two-thirds of all separations were worker-initiated voluntary quits.
When the majority of separations are voluntary quits, as they were in March, this signals that workers are extremely confident and on the hunt for better jobs with higher pay. The April jobs report shows job seekers are succeeding at this goal. Wages increased by 3.2% in April and have grown by more than 3% each month for nine straight months.
3. Hires slipped by 335,000 to 5.66 million in March. Employers aren’t choosing to put the brakes on hiring, however.
Job openings grew at nearly twice the rate as hires in March, reflecting the mounting challenges faced by employers struggling to find talent in a tight labor market. Rather than a sign of flagging demand, weak hiring growth stems from a lack of labor supply.