12 Feb 2019

U.S. job openings jump to record 7.3 million in December

Corporate recruiters (R) gesture and shake hands as they talk with job seekers at a Hire Our Heroes job fair targeting unemployed military veterans and sponsored by the Cable Show, a cable television industry trade show in Washington, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job openings surged to a record high in December, led by vacancies in the construction, accommodation and food services sectors, which could bolster views that the economy is experiencing a dearth of workers.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased by 169,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.3 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, on Tuesday. That was the highest level since the series started in 2000.

The job openings rate climbed to 4.7 percent from 4.6 percent in November. Hiring rose to 5.9 million from 5.8 million in November. Anecdotal evidence has been growing of companies experiencing difficulties finding workers, a phenomenon that economists expect will slow down job growth this year.

The government reported earlier this month that nonfarm payrolls increasing by 304,000 jobs in January, the largest gain since February 2018. Job gains are expected to slow to around 150,000 per month this year as workers become more scarce.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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