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Job openings in the US, ending range marching records in tight labor market




Job openings and the number of times workers quit reached the highest levels recorded in March, as the shortage of unemployed workers continued to put pressure on the US labor market.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Labor reported seasonally adjusted 11.5 million vacancies in March, an increase from 11.3 million the month before. The number of times employees quit their jobs rose to 4.5 million in the same month, slightly higher than the previous record in November last year. Meanwhile, employment was cooled slightly from the previous month to 6.7 million in March.

Separate estimates from the private sector showed that demand for labor remained red-hot throughout April. The job website ZipRecruiter said that employers had around 11 million vacancies last month.

Consumer-facing industries such as accommodation and food services, along with arts and entertainment, had the highest frequency of vacancies in March, according to the Ministry of Labor. Job openings in the health sector were also close to record highs.

According to a ZipRecruiter analysis of data from the Ministry of Labor, job advertisements with larger employers ̵[ads1]1; those with more than 5,000 employees – have more than doubled since February 2020. Production, retail, education and professional services have had the largest increase. The openings reached their highest level registered in the South.

The number of vacancies in March was higher than the previous record of 11.4 million in December, according to the Ministry of Labor.

“There is little sign of cooling in the largest job search market ever,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter. “As companies continue to face high turnover, and the gap between labor demand and supply widens further, companies will continue to experience upward pressure on wages.”

The number of vacancies continues to exceed the number of unemployed who apply for work. In March, there were almost two vacancies for each unemployed person, according to the Ministry of Labor. The openings have exceeded the level of unemployed people applying for jobs since last spring.

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Employers have had problems hiring from the limited number of available workers, and millions of people are expected to stand on the sidelines indefinitely. It has also pushed up wages.

Bryan Simmons is a behavioral psychologist who started his own business for therapeutic services in October 2020, and treated patients with developmental disabilities such as autism.

Mr. Simmons said he has offered salaries “much higher than the industry standard” to succeed in competing for therapists.

“I remember I asked one of my current workers in particular how much money they had to earn to be happy and stay,” Mr. Simmons said. “Then they gave me a number and I said ‘Done.'”

Many people in the labor market also experience that they have gained influence, which makes it easier to change jobs.

Jeff Batuhan quit his job as head of an advertising technology company in December and took on an external role for Tinuiti, a New York City-based marketing company. The 45-year-old said he was attracted to the culture and flexibility of his current workplace.

“I had a baby during the pandemic, and I began to really consider what is best for me and my family. The flexibility of the workplace and the company’s values ​​really played a role for me personally, ”said Batuhan.

By switching to a completely remote job, Mr. Batuhan and his family were able to move in March from New York City to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they have more living space, he said.

The tight labor market has helped to stimulate record-high compensation gains for workers, and keep pressure on inflation. Employees who change jobs often win double-digit salary increases.

The average hourly wage for workers in the private sector was 5.6% higher than the year before in March, and rose significantly faster than the approximately 3% registered the year before the pandemic began, according to the Ministry of Labor.

“If the labor market were to decline significantly, we might not see the same level of wage growth and benefit increases,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at the Glassdoor job site.

Write to Bryan Mena at bryan.mena@wsj.com

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