US job openings increased to the highest level on record in March, data released on Tuesday showed in the latest sign of the tightening of America’s labour market. The number of job openings rose to 6.55m in March, from 6.08m the previous month, according to a Department of Labor report that was closely watched by former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.
That was higher than the 6.10m that Wall Street had forecast, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. It was also the highest level since the series began in December 2000. The so-called JOLTS report also showed the quits rate, or the rate at which people voluntarily left their jobs, edged up to match the December high of 2.3 per cent.
The quits rate is seen as a gauge of workers’ confidence in the US labour market and their ability to find a new job. The report comes after the US non-farm payroll report last week showed that the national unemployment rate fell below 4 per cent in April for the first time since Bill Clinton was president. However the fall in unemployment rate came as the labour force participation rate dipped last month.
Economists and investors are now trying determine how much slack remains in the labour market, amid mixed news on wage growth, as they try to determine whether the Federal Reserve will take a gentle path toward lifting rates or take a more aggressive approach to tightening monetary policy.