Job openings hit a fresh record in August, indicating companies could face more inflationary pressures ahead with a tight labor market.
The vacancies level hit 7.14 million for the month, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, a report Federal Reserve officials watch closely for clues about where employment stands.
The total number of hires also reached a new record of 5.78 million.
Openings dwarfed the total level of workers looking for jobs, which stood at 6.23 million for that month and fell to 5.96 million in September, recent Labor Department statistics show. The JOLTS survey, as it is known, lags the government’s nonfarm payrolls count by a month. The survey began in December 2000.
Economists have been watching JOLTS closely as in indicator of when worker wages might start catching up with the acceleration in employment and the rapid decline in unemployment. The headline jobless rate for September was 3.7 percent, its lowest level in 49 years.
Workers continued to show confidence in the jobs market, evidenced by a quits rate that edged just a shade lower from July to 3.58 million. The rate, which counts those who voluntarily left positions, jumped 12.7 percent from August 2017.
“The fact that record numbers of workers are voluntarily quitting their jobs suggests that they are finding substantially better opportunities elsewhere in the economy,” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter.
Wages have been moving higher over the past year but still haven’t broken out of the post-recession range. Average hourly earnings rose about 2.9 percent in August and 2.8 percent in September.