The number of job openings in the U.S. economy soared to 9.3 million in April, up from 8.2 million in March, the Labor Department announced Tuesday. In another positive sign, the number of people who quit their jobs also rose during the month, hitting a record 4 million, while the number of layoffs dropped to a record low.
The report added to concerns expressed by some business owners that there is a labor shortage, caused in part by the temporary, elevated unemployment benefits of $300 per week being paid by the federal government. Many experts say the labor market is more complicated than that, with a variety of factors contributing to the uneven reopening of the economy after a year of pandemic-related closures.
Whatever the cause, economists agree that the current dynamic is giving employees more power in the labor market than they have had for decades. “The sectors leading the way in quitting are those where labor markets are already fairly tight or where hiring is ramping up: leisure and hospitality, transportation and warehousing, and retail trade,” Nick Bunker of the employment website Indeed said.
All in all, the labor report is a good sign for the economic recovery. “High quits mean workers feel comfortable leaving their jobs in search of better matches,” Elise Gould of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute wrote. “Low layoffs are an obvious good. The economic recovery is gaining momentum.”