Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Business

U.S. job openings hit 13-year high

U.S. employers in June advertised the most monthly job openings in more than 13 years.

Employers posted 4.67 million jobs in June, up 2.1 percent from May's total of 4.58 million, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. The number of advertised openings was the highest since February 2001, a positive sign that points to a strengthening economy.

The report "provides further confirmation that the U.S. labor market has indeed shifted to a period of stronger growth," said Jeremy Schwartz, an analyst at the bank Credit Suisse.

Known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey or JOLTS, the report provides a detailed look at where employment might be heading. It records job postings, overall hiring and the number of workers who either quit or were laid-off. By contrast, the monthly employment report shows the net total of job gains or losses.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen relies on the JOLTS report as a barometer for economic conditions. The June figures indicate that employers are looking to expand, yet actual hiring has not increased as significantly in recent months.

Roughly the same percentage of Americans quit their jobs in June as they did in May, though the rate has increased over the past year. Quit rates usually rise when employees are finding new and better-paying jobs.

In other economic news, the federal government ran a lower deficit this July than a year ago, keeping it on course to record the lowest deficit in six years.

The July deficit was $94.6 billion, an improvement of 3.1 percent from a year ago, the Treasury Department reported Tuesday in its monthly budget statement.

For the first 10 months of this budget year, the deficit totals $460.5 billion, down 24.2 percent from the same period a year ago.

The Congressional Budget Office expects this year's deficit to total about $500 billion, down from $680.2 billion last year. That would be the lowest deficit since an imbalance of $458.6 billion in 2008, which was a record at the time. The Great Recession and efforts to deal with the financial crisis sent deficits above $1 trillion for four straight years.

The July imbalance followed a $70.5 billion surplus in June, a month when government coffers are swelled by quarterly tax payments. But without the quarterly payments, the government ran a deficit in July, a month when it has recorded deficits in 58 of the last 60 years.

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