In a further indication that the labor market is continuing to recover, the U.S. Labor Department announced Wednesday that job openings in July stayed close to a more than 13-year high.
The number of positions waiting to be filled fell by only 2,000 to 4.67 million in July from 4.68 million the month before, which was the highest since February 2001.
Americans also appear confident about finding other work, with some 2.52 million people quitting their jobs in July, the highest since June 2008 and up from 2.48 million the prior month. Help-wanted listings, meanwhile, have increased by about 750,000 since the end of 2013.
The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data, part of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s employment “dashboard” used to help guide monetary policy, “underscore persistent progress in the labor market” and “will probably keep central bankers on the path toward reducing stimulus while holding the line on interest rates,” Bloomberg reports.
“You had a pretty quick acceleration from the beginning of the year to now in openings,” Thomas Simons, a money market economist at Jefferies LLC in New York, tells Bloomberg, “It’s a sign of continued progress in the labor market healing process. Janet Yellen would like to see more on this front, but nothing today is going to swing the needle on any kind of policy decisions.”
JOLTS includes nine measures of the labor market. Of those, only three — the job openings rate, payrolls and the pace of dismissals — have returned to pre-recession levels, an indication, according to Bloomberg, that “there’s still some slack in the job market.”
The latest JOLTS report also showed that the number of people hired increased to 4.87 million in July from 4.79 million a month earlier and the hiring rate — the number of hires during the month divided by the number of employees who worked or received pay — held at 3.5 percent.
“Considering the 9.7 million Americans who were unemployed in July, today’s figures indicate there are about 2.1 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the last recession began in December 2007,” Bloomberg says.