U.S. Job Openings, Total Quits Reach March Records in Tight Labor Market

U.S. Job Openings, Total Quits Reach March Records in Tight Labor Market

Job openings and the number of times workers quit reached the highest levels on record in March, the Labor Department said, as a shortage of available workers continued to pressure the U.S. labor market.

The Labor Department on Tuesday reported a seasonally adjusted 11.5 million job openings in March, an increase from 11.3 million the prior month. The number of times workers quit their jobs rose to 4.5 million in the same month, slightly higher than the previous record in November of last year. Meanwhile, hiring cooled slightly from the month before to 6.7 million in March.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimated there were 11.2 million openings in March.

Separate private-sector estimates showed that demand for labor remained red-hot through April. Jobs site


said employers had about 11 million job openings last month.

Consumer-facing industries like accommodation and food services, along with arts and entertainment, had the highest rate of job openings in March.

The March job openings total was higher than the previous record of 11.4 million in December, according to the Labor Department.

“There’s still very strong demand for labor from employers, even as labor supply has expanded,” said

Julia Pollak,

chief economist of ZipRecruiter, referring to more people returning to the labor force two years into the Covid-19 pandemic. “As workers have come back, they’ve been moving into employment more quickly.”

A gap between the number of job openings and of people unemployed but seeking work has persisted since last spring. In February, there were 1.79 job openings for every unemployed person, according to Labor Department data.

The monthly jobs report reveals key indicators about the labor market and the overall state of the economy, but it doesn’t show the entire picture. WSJ explains how to read the report, what it shows and what it doesn’t. Photo illustration: Liz Ornitz

Employers have had difficulty hiring from the limited pool of available workers, and millions of employees are expected to remain on the sidelines indefinitely. Many people in the labor market also are finding they have gained leverage, making it easier to switch jobs.

Jeff Batuhan

quit his job as an executive at an advertising-technology company in December and took a role working remotely for Tinuiti, a marketing firm based in New York City. The 45-year-old said he was drawn to the culture and flexibility of his current workplace.

“I had a baby during the pandemic, and I started to really evaluate what’s best for me and my family. The workplace flexibility and the company’s values really played a role for me personally,” Mr. Batuhan said.

Switching to a completely remote job allowed Mr. Batuhan and his family to relocate in March from New York City to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they have more living space, he said.

The tight labor market has helped spur record compensation gains for workers, keeping pressure on inflation. Employees who switch jobs often win double-digit pay raises.

Average hourly earnings for workers in the private sector were 5.6% higher than the year before in March, rising significantly faster than the roughly 3% rate recorded the year before the pandemic began, according to the Labor Department.

“If the job market were to slow down significantly, then we might not see the same level of wage growth and benefits expansion,” said

Daniel Zhao,

senior economist at jobs site Glassdoor.

Write to Bryan Mena at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

Related Posts