U.S. Job Openings Hit Record High, Boosting Wages

February 22, 2019

U.S. job openings reached a record 7.3 million in December, underscoring the robust demand for workers, and real inflation-adjusted weekly earnings for production workers jumped 2.4 percent from a year ago as the war for talent continues.

One million more job openings than unemployed Americans points to a strong labor market, which bodes well for further pay increases.  Over the course of this year, job openings have increased 29 percent.

Quit rate remains high (2.3%), nearing the 18-year high (2.4%) set in September, indicating confidence that job prospects remain strong.

Industries with the highest job opening rates include accommodation and food services, professional and business services, and health care and social assistance.

Take-away:  The report confirms serious worker shortages persist, which should lead to firmer wage pressures, and additional interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve later this year, especially if trade tensions ease.