Job openings rose in May to the highest level in almost seven years, a sign the U.S. labor market will help boost economic growth in the second half of this year.
The number of positions waiting to be filled climbed by 171,000 to 4.64 million, the most since June 2007, a report from the Labor Department showed Tuesday. The number of unemployed job seekers per opening fell to the lowest level in six years.
The figures indicate there are about 2.1 unemployed people vying for every opening, the fewest since May 2008. There were 1.8 job seekers per opening when the last recession began in December 2007.
Payrolls expanded by 288,000 workers in June following a 224,000 gain the prior month, Labor Department figures showed last week. The jobless rate fell to an almost six-year low of 6.1 percent, from 6.3 percent.
In Tuesday’s report, the number of people hired cooled to 4.72 million in May from 4.77 million, pushing down the hiring rate to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent. The latest reading compares with an average hiring rate of 2.8 percent during the previous expansion. The gauge calculates the number of hires during the month divided by the number of employees who worked during that period.
Some 2.53 million people quit their jobs in May, up from the prior month’s 2.47 million. The quits rate, which shows the willingness of workers to leave their jobs, held at 1.8 percent and is down from 2.1 percent when the recession started at the end of 2007.
Total dismissals, which exclude retirements and those who left their job voluntarily, decreased to 1.58 million from 1.7 million a month before.
In the 12 months ended in May, the economy created a net 2.3 million jobs, representing 55.3 million hires.