By Joseph Lawler
July 10, 2018
New hires are at the highest level in 17 years and the second highest on record the Department of Labor reported Tuesday, another sign that the labor market is nearing the best health it has seen in decades.
The total number of hires rose to 5.75 million in May, the agency reported, the most since January of 2001 at the height of the dotcom bubble.
Meanwhile, job vacancies remained near record high levels at 6.6 million.
For the second month in a row, there were more job openings than unemployed workers, a situation not seen in decades. During the worst of the recession, in comparison, there were more than six jobless workers for every advertised vacancy.
Tuesday’s numbers come from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which contains details on hiring and firing that aren’t available in the monthly jobs reports. Although its release lags the jobs report by one month, investors and officials value it because of the information it provides on underlying movements in the jobs market.
The report contained plenty of good news about the state of the economy.
In May, 3.6 million people quit their jobs, more than ever before. That’s a good sign because it suggests that employees are comfortable enough in their prospects to walk away from their jobs. That quits rate rose to the highest rate, 2.4 quits per 100 workers, since April of 2001.