The number of jobs waiting to be filled in the U.S. climbed in August to the highest level in 13 years as employers gained confidence to expand their workforces. Openings (JOLTTOTL) rose to 4.84 million in August, the most since January 2001, from a revised 4.61 million the prior month, according to Labor Department data issued today in Washington. The report also showed hiring and firing cooled, while fewer people quit their jobs.
The upswing in openings helps explain the rebound in payrolls last month that pushed the jobless rate to a six-year low and signaled Americans can look forward to sustained gains in hiring into 2015. The figures form part of a package of data Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues use to measure the labor market’s health, which will help determine when the central bank starts to raise its benchmark interest.
“The job market remains healthy,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “Job openings have some indicative power beyond just one month ahead. It probably isn’t decisive, but it does tell you conditions are going to be pretty good for hiring in the fourth quarter.”