Employers posted 11.5 million jobs in March, the highest level since tracking began in 2000, the Labor Department announced Tuesday. New hirings during the month held steady at 6.7 million, while the number of people quitting their jobs rose to a record 4.5 million.
Job openings now exceed the number of available workers by about 5.6 million, which means there are nearly two jobs for every job seeker (see the chart from RSM’s Joseph Brusuelas below).
“Demand for workers remains white-hot,” economist Julia Pollak of ZipRecruiter told The Washington Post. “This is very broad, enormous growth. Even though we’ve almost recovered all of the jobs lost in the pandemic, the labor market just keeps getting tighter and tighter.”
Inflation worries persist: The unrelenting demand for workers is good news for those looking for better jobs and higher pay, and wages have risen by 4.7% over the last year. But inflation of roughly 8% has eaten away at those wage gains, leaving many workers worse off. That has some economists worrying about more upward pressure on wages, which could in turn push inflation higher still.
“These record quits across the economy show that employers are under huge pressure,” Pollak told the Post. “They’re going to realize very quickly that offering massive compensation packages to new hires isn’t going to cut it anymore. They’re going to have to raise wages wholesale for existing employees, too.”