In an encouraging sign for the labor market, a government report that tracks the rate of U.S. job openings and turnover showed the highest rate of hiring in more than six years in September.
The U.S. Labor Department’s Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey showed employers added 5 million new employees, up from 4.7 million in August. That was a hiring rate of 3.6 percent, the highest since 2007.
The industries with the most new hires included education and health care, transportation, and the leisure and hospitality sector.
The number of people quitting their jobs, a signal that Americans are gaining confidence in the labor market, increased to 2.8 million in September from 2.5 million the previous month. The so-called quit rate, at 2 percent, was the highest since 2008.
“The fact that the dynamic between layoffs and quitting continues to get stronger is certainly in keeping with the strength of the economy and the labor market,” said John Challenger, CEO at Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a Chicago-based outplacement firm.
Challenger added that though wages have remained flat, the job market is improving to the point where he expects more pressure on companies to raise wages to keep their employees.
“I do think that’s happening and there’s going to be a breakout soon” in wages, Challenger said. “In the next six months to a year, I’m really convinced of that.”
Separately, the Labor Dept. said initial claims for jobless benefits rose to 290,000 in the week ended Nov. 8, up 12,000 from the 278,000 of the previous week.
Though the increase was larger than anticipated, economists focused instead on the fact that unemployment claims remain below 300,000, considered a sign of a healthy job market.