The number of job openings held at record levels headed into the summer as employers sought to fill positions from a limited pool of workers.
The Labor Department on Wednesday said job openings rose at the end of May by 16,000, pushing the total to a new high of 9.2 million jobs in records dating back to 2000.
The number of available jobs nearly matched the 9.3 million Americans who were unemployed but actively seeking jobs in May, reflecting an unusual tightness in the job market. The number of unemployed workers has exceeded available jobs in data back to 2000, except for a period from 2018 to early 2020 when the unemployment rate trended near a 50-year low.
Services industries, such as leisure and hospitality, led the figures and maintained momentum in May as the pandemic eased and more consumer-facing business fully reopened, Labor Department data showed.
“We’re seeing lots of strong, urgent demand for workers,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at job-search site Indeed.com. “The question is how many hires those job openings get and what’s the amount of demand that’s going to happen in the fall or the winter.”