United States job openings jump to record in March

Maui Divers Jewelry interviewed job-seekers at an employment

The labor market has come within a hair of reaching that milestone for the first time in records going back to 2000.

The level hit 6.6 million, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released Tuesday.

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Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.4 million and 5.3 million, respectively. Taken together, the two data points are signs of shortages in the labor market.

A separate survey from the National Federation of Independent Business found that 88% of companies hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Nearly a quarter say it's the biggest problem for their businesses. Professional and business services, construction, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities led the new vacancies. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated a couple of times during the year. In March, that rate fell to 1 unemployed for every job opening.

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One signal of worker confidence: The number of workers quitting their jobs rose in March to the highest since 2001.

The big pickup in job openings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-job-openings-hit-record-655-million-2018-05-08) has done what's not ever been accomplished in the almost two-decade history of this economic series - there's now a job opening for every unemployed worker.

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With rising vacancies nearly helping to close the gap with the ranks of the unemployed, the job market is increasingly tight. Workers believe they can find better similar or higher-paying jobs elsewhere.

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