News Column

4.5 Million Workers Wanted, Most in 7 Years

June 11, 2014

Doug Carroll, USA TODAY

Waiting for job interview (file photo)
Waiting for job interview (file photo)

Job openings in April soared to their highest level in almost seven years in another sign of the labor market's growing strength.

Employers recruited candidates for 4.5 million open jobs in April, up from 4.2 million in March and the most since September 2007, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Openings are "in shouting distance" of their pre-recession high, 4.7 million, in March 2007, said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

"Full employment here we come. The economy is better than you think," he said in a research note to clients Tuesday morning.

While openings surged, employers' pace of hiring did not change much. Hirings were 4.7 million, about the same as the previous two months, Labor said.

That's better than a year ago when hirings averaged 4.4 million in the first four months of 2013, but before the recession -- in 2004 through 2007 -- monthly hirings often topped 5 million.

Tuesday's report comes from Labor's monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which is closely followed by economists and Federal Reserve policymakers for its insights into labor market trends.

The report shows openings grew in every region of the country in April. The sharpest improvement was in the Midwest, where openings increased 13% from March and topped a seasonally adjusted 1 million for the first time since August 2001. The South led in total openings, as it always does, with 1.6 million seasonally adjusted. In the West, openings were about 1 million, and in the Northeast, 771,000.

Separations, which include layoffs, discharges and quits, were unchanged from March.

The quits rate, a gauge of workers' confidence in their ability to find a new job after leaving one, was unchanged at 1.8%.

The government reported Friday that as of last month, the economy had more than recovered all the 8.7 million jobs lost in the recession and its aftermath.

Employers added 217,000 jobs in May, the fourth straight month of 200,000-plus gains. May's jobless rate was unchanged at 6.3%.

Madelyn Hastings, via AP


Original headline: Wanted: 4.5 million workers, the most in about 7 years

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