The number of job openings rose to a record 9.3 million in April as the economy quickly recovered from its pandemic lows.
The standard set in April was well above the 8.3 million in March, which itself was a new high since 2000 for the Department of Labor’s vacancy and turnover survey.
Federal Reserve policymakers are closely monitoring JOLTS numbers for evidence of a weak labor market, even though they are a month behind the better-known non-farm payrolls.
According to FactSet, the markets were looking for a JOLTS number of around 8.18 million. The total number of vacancies for the month was just below the total number of people considered unemployed.
In leisure and hospitality, job availability rose 32.7%, the sector hardest hit by the pandemic lockdowns.
The big jump in job openings came during a month when hiring was disappointed. The number of employees rose by only 278,000 at a time when economists had expected growth of around 1 million.
However, the Department of Labor struggled with seasonal adjustments, compounded by the uniqueness of the virus situation, and the JOLTS numbers showed that the labor market is poised for continued strong growth.
A major challenge for employers is to find available labor. Problems with childcare, lingering fears of the pandemic and the lure of increased unemployment benefits have kept unemployment at 9.8 million, about 3.6 million higher than pre-pandemic. That level fell to 9.3 million in May, roughly in line with job vacancies.
The rent rate for April remained subdued at 69,000 or unchanged at 4.2% compared to the previous month.
Dismissals, which are seen as a measure of workers’ confidence in finding other employment, rose significantly to 3.95 million. This corresponded to a growth of 384,000, an increase of 10.8%, which increased the layoff rate relative to the labor force from 2.5% to a record high of 2.7%.
“This recent surge in job vacancies suggests companies are struggling to fill positions, and the number of layoffs reported in the JOLTS data has also risen sharply, suggesting that workers are able to fill new positions find – or trust in their abilities. “Wrote JP Morgan economist Daniel Silver. “Both of these factors signal the need for companies to raise wages, and we’ve seen a variety of related moves recently.”
The retail sector recorded a particularly strong increase in layoffs from 3.6% to 4.3%.
The total number of breakups rose to 5.76 million, an increase of 324,000, taking the rate from 3.8% to 4%. Layoffs and layoffs fell to 1%, also a JOLTS low.
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