Job openings near record high, but most workers stay put
There’s good and bad news in the latest job openings and labor turnover report.
The good: the number of open jobs rose in September to the second-highest level on record. Job openings climbed to a seasonally adjusted 5.53 million from 5.38 million in August, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The bad: the quits rate stayed at 1.9% for the sixth month in a row. That’s still below the 2.1% average in the year before the Great Recession ravaged the U.S. economy.
Workers quitting in greater numbers is viewed as a sign of confidence because it indicates they can find another — perhaps better paying — job. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said she pays close attention to this measure to help assess the health of the labor market.
Two explanations could explain the paradox.
One is that employers aren’t offering high enough pay to fill these spots. Keep in mind that the report covers September. The good news on the pay front came in the employment report for October, when
The other is a so-called skills mismatch. With the unemployment rate cut in half from its peak, the available pool of labor isn’t as desirable as before. The long-term employed lose skills while sitting out of the jobs market, which makes it difficult for employers to find the right talent. Most polls of executives highlight that problem as a leading concern of businesses.
Other findings from the report show that growth in job openings came from relatively high-paying business services and from relatively low-paying retailers.
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