Aug. 12--Job seekers had more opportunities to find work this summer as openings climbed to their highest level nationally in 13 years with small increases in Florida-friendly industries such as leisure and hospitality.
According to a Labor Department report released Tuesday, job openings were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.67 million on June 30, a slight bump up from 4.57 million at the end of May, but the most since February 2001.
The report, which also measures hirings, layoffs and resignations, is in line with consistently positive job market data seen in the past year, said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida.
"But all that glitters is not gold," Snaith added, noting that the number of people quitting their jobs has mostly leveled off -- a sign there's less confidence that a person can find other, higher-paying employment. "There's still a lack of strengthening in the wage growth and that shows some chinks in the armor."
Hiring also ticked up in June from May with 4.8 million people finding new jobs, according to Tuesday's Job Openings and Labor Turnover report.
Florida added 34,700 jobs in June -- the most in the nation -- as measured by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
"The regional job market is the best we've seen in six years, with more than 18,000 current job openings in the county," said Steve Craig, president and chief executive officer of CareerSource Palm Beach County. "The county's unemployment rate also has dropped to nearly half of what it was at the peak of the Great Recession in the summer of 2010."
Craig said Palm Beach County construction jobs have seen the highest growth on a percentage basis, increasing 10.2 percent in the past year.
Nationally, there were 693,000 job openings in the leisure and hospitality industry in June, according to Tuesday's report. That's an increase of 38 percent from the same time last year. The number of professional and business services openings jumped 36 percent in June from last year to 942,000.
Lake Worth resident Alexander Borge was out of work seven months after the nonprofit he worked for ran out of money. Borge estimates he applied for five jobs on average each week and found a full-time position this summer with the nonprofit housing and debt counseling agency DebtHelper.com.
"I knew it was going to be tough and that the job market wasn't in a very good situation," said Borge, who had bought a home just before being laid off. "I'm just glad I was able to find something eventually because my savings was going down and down and down."
While jobs are increasing, unemployment in Palm Beach County edged up in June to 6.1 percent from May's 6 percent. That's partly because of a traditional summer slump for seasonal workers, but there's also a lack of experienced workers to fill specific positions, such as in accounting and information technology, said Randy McDermott, Palm Beach County manager for recruiting firm Robert Half International.
"We are seeing an abundance of job opportunities that are hard to fill because we don't have skilled candidates," McDermott said. "It's been very challenging to find solid candidates."
(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
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