U.S. employers posted 11 million open jobs in October, nearly matching a record high reached in July and a sign that companies were confident enough in the economy to expand.
A government report Wednesday also showed that the number of people quitting their jobs dropped slightly in October to 4.2 million, from 4.4 million in September, though that is still the third-highest number of monthly resignations on records dating back to 2000.
The figures from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, show that with so many companies chasing relatively few unemployed people, job-seekers have the most bargaining power they have had in at least two decades. Wages are rising at a healthy pace, particularly for lower-paid employees, though much of that bump in pay is being eroded by higher inflation.
There were just 7.4 million people counted as unemployed in October, equal to just two-thirds of the 11 million open jobs. Before the pandemic, there were usually more unemployed people than available workers.
Larger paychecks are luring many employees to leave their jobs for new work, pushing up the number of quits. A high number of resignations is a sign of a strong labor market because it shows that people are confident they can find a new job. The vast majority of people who quit do so to take new jobs.
Separate data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that people switching jobs are receiving bigger pay raises than those who stay put.
Job openings rose about 4% in October to 11 million, just below July’s peak of 11.1 million. The biggest increase was in restaurants, bars and hotels, where they leapt nearly 20% to 1.6 million.
Manufacturing firms are also seeking more employees, even as many struggle to obtain supplies amid widespread supply chain bottlenecks. The number of available factory jobs jumped 6% in October, to just over 1 million, more than double the pre-pandemic level and the highest on record.
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