The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Labor Department released its latest JOLTS report on Wednesday.
The main results:
–nationwide job openings are now at 5.9 million, the highest figure in the 16 year history of the report. This is substantially above the 4.5 million level of 2006-07.
–the rate of new hires has been flat for about two years at just over 5 million monthly. While this is 5% – 10% below the rate of 2006-07, the very high number of job openings would have been consistent with an unemployment rate of 3% ten years ago. This seems to me to be a point in favor of the idea that the main impediment to filling jobs is finding workers with needed skills.
–3 million workers are voluntarily leaving their jobs monthly. This is a sign they’re confident of finding employment again without much difficulty. That’s back to the pre-recession levels of 2006, and almost double the recession lows.
All of this argues that the US is at or near full employment. On the other hand, however, there’s little sign of the upward pressure on wages that this situation would have produced in the past.
Whatever the reason for slow-rising wages, it seems to me there’s no reason in the employment figures for the Fed to maintain anything near the current emergency-room-low level of short-term interest rates.