Tags: Job Openings | Workers | Labor | Employment

September Job Openings in US at Second-Highest Level Since 2001

Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:16 AM

Job openings in the U.S. held near a 13-year high in September, a sign the pickup in hiring may be sustained through year-end.

The number of positions waiting to be filled in the U.S. eased to 4.74 million, second only to August’s 4.85 million as the highest since January 2001, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The rate of hiring matched the strongest since the recession began and the number of Americans quitting their jobs also increased.

More openings reinforce signs that the labor market’s recovery is gaining traction, with job gains on pace for their best performance since 1999 and the unemployment rate at its lowest in more than six years. The figures are among those that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen uses to assess the employment picture and judge whether the economy is healthy enough to withstand a rise in interest rates.

“It’s all trending in the right direction” in the labor market, Brett Ryan, U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York, said before the report. “We still remain pretty positive here.”

Stocks rose, with benchmark indexes climbing to records, amid corporate deals and as better-than-estimated results from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. led retailers higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.3 percent to 2,044.75 at 10:45 a.m. in New York.

More Context

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring. Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, Yellen follows the report as a measure of labor-market tightness and worker confidence.

Some 2.75 million people quit their jobs in September, up from 2.51 million a month earlier, today’s report showed. The quits rate climbed to 2 percent, the highest since April 2008.

The hiring rate — the number of people who got new jobs divided by the number who worked or were paid — rose to 3.6 percent in September, matching July’s reading as the strongest since December 2007. The rate compares with an average of 3.8 percent during the previous expansion. Hires rose to 5.03 million from 4.74 million, according to the figures.

“The main focus is the hiring rate and the quits rate,” Ryan said before the report. “If people are quitting their jobs, obviously they have better jobs other places. So that’s another sign that the labor market is at a more normalized and healthy level.”

October Payrolls

The report follows figures last week that showed employers added 214,000 jobs in October after a 256,000 advance the prior month that was larger than first estimated. The unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, the lowest level since July 2008, from 5.9 percent the prior month.

The October data lifted the monthly average employment gain so far in 2014 to 228,500, which would mark the strongest year since employers added an average 264,750 per month in 1999.

At the same time, pockets of the labor market still show weakness, with two-thirds of the gauges on Yellen’s dashboard not yet returned to pre-recession strength. The share of jobless who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer rose to 32 percent last month, almost twice the 17.4 percent share in December 2007 when the last downturn began.

Judy Robinson from Hartford, Connecticut, a decades-long mortgage servicer who lost her job with NationalLink 14 months ago, said she’s hopeful that networking with old colleagues and realistic expectations will help yield an offer soon.

‘Still Nervous’

“I don’t mind going backwards a little bit — because of this job market and because of my age, I expect that’s going to happen,” said Robinson, who last month completed a five-week job-help program targeting the long-term unemployed. “My outlook is not negative, but still nervous.”

About 2 people are vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the last recession began in December 2007, according to today’s report.

The figures today also showed that dismissals, which exclude retirements and people who quit voluntarily, climbed to 1.65 million from 1.62 million in August.

In the year that ended in September, employers added a net 2.6 million jobs, representing 56.6 million hires and 54 million separations.

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Job openings in the U.S. held near a 13-year high in September, a sign the pickup in hiring may be sustained through year-end.
Job Openings, Workers, Labor, Employment
Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:16 AM
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