The number of available jobs exceeded the number of unemployed US workers for the first time since records were kept for this statistic 18 years ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported June 5. That's the most since records began in December 2000.
Steady economic growth has encouraged employers to step up their hiring practices. The so-called quits rate - workers leaving their jobs as a percentage of total employment - held steady in April at 2.3 percent.
The Labor Department classifies people as unemployed if they do not have a job, are available to work and have actively looked for a job in the previous four weeks. Now, that figure has fallen to just 0.95 per opening. More quitting is a positive sign, because it suggests workers are leaving jobs for new, possibly higher-paying, ones.
"Given these trends, the sluggish wage growth rate is even more perplexing", Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told USA Today.
The JOLTS report showed that the rise in openings in April was led by professional and business services. In April 2000, the last time the unemployment rate was as low as it is now, hourly pay jumped almost 4 per cent from the previous year.
For example, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta indicate that workers who switch jobs are starting to get healthier pay gains.
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But by historical standards, pay increases for job-switchers are relatively low.
The manufacturing of long-lasting durable goods, including airplanes and machinery, saw some of the biggest increases in job vacancies in April, in addition to the information sector.
"That is really astonishing to me at this point in the recovery", Gimbel said.
The number of total separations was also little changed at 5.4 million, that is, a 3.6 percent rate.
The total USA labor force of employed and unemployed workers was 161.5 million in April.