The result was a widening of the help wanted gap, the gap between job postings and hires in the month, to 3.282 million. That is the biggest gap on record.
U.S. employers had posted 9.209 million job openings on the final day of May, data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the highest level ever.
April’s job openings were revised down to 9.193 million from the preliminary report of 9.286. After the revision, April is now the second highest level of openings.
Despite rising demand from employers for workers, hiring fell in May. There were 5.927 million seasonally adjusted hires in the month, slightly lower than the 6.012 million hires in April. The prior month’s figure was revised down from 6.075 million.
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The data come from the Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS
The widening gap between openings and hires is further evidence that the labor market faces a supply challenge rather than a shortage in demand for workers. Wednesday’s report indicates that enhanced unemployment benefits–which pay an extra $300 in weekly federal unemployment aid on top of a state payment that averages about $320–are discouraging those out of work from seeking new jobs. Nearly two dozen states have moved to end the enhanced benefits this summer, months earlier than they were scheduled to expire, but those policies didin’t kick in until June. As a result, the benefits will likely not show up until the July job openings report.
While a positive gap, meaning more openings than hires, is good for workers because it means they have more bargaining power to negotiate for higher wages, better working conditions, and improved benefits, the spike in recent months appears to be evidence of an expansion stifled by public policy.
In April, the quits level rose to a record high of 4.0 million, a sign that employees are confident that they can readily find new work. But this fell to the still impressive level of 3.6 million in May. Quits were down or flat in most sectors tracked by the report but they rose in accommodations and food services to 706,00 from 695,00.