Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

A first: More job openings than unemployed now

A first: More job openings than unemployed now

The ratio of unemployed workers to job openings dropped below one in April for the first time since the Labor Department started collecting data in 2000, the agency reported Tuesday.

Steady economic growth has encouraged employers to step up their hiring practices.

Hires were little changed in April at 5.6 million at a rate of 3.8 percent.

There are now more open jobs than there are unemployed people, a historically unusual development that should give workers more leverage to demand raises.

Partly for that reason, the amount of time it takes for the median unemployed person to find their next job is still almost 10 weeks, above the historical average. As the chart shows, the quits rate for government employees averaged just 0.8% through April, which matches the highs of the previous expansion, and is up from a low 0.4% as of May 2009.

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The surest sign that employers were scrambling for workers would be steady pay gains, as businesses bid higher for the workers they need. In April 2000, the last time the unemployment rate was as low as it is now, hourly pay jumped almost 4 per cent from the previous year.

The revised data show that job openings outstripped total unemployed workers in March and the trend continued in April.

But by historical standards, pay increases even for job-switchers are relatively low.

The manufacturing of long-lasting durable goods, including airplanes and machinery, saw some of the biggest increases in job vacancies in April, in addition to the information sector.

The new data signals a growing United States economy just months after President Trump signed the recently passed GOP tax cuts into law; unleashing American businesses and putting millions of dollars back into workers bank accounts. Wages for job-stayers were up just 2.9 per cent in April, compared with 3.7 per cent six months earlier.

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