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More Positive Momentum on Jobs

Millennials at workThis morning we learned that job openings at employers nationwide have hit an all-time high, or at least since the Labor Department started collecting the data in 2001.

That, along with other new data, suggests positive momentum for the labor market, said Bob Hughes, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.

Job openings hit 5.376 million in April, up by 267,000 over March. At 4.887 million private sector job openings, that, too, is a record, he noted. The openings were across many different sectors of the labor market, including health care, trade, transportation and utilities. “It’s a positive sign for future hiring,” Hughes said.

The percentage of people who voluntary quit their job ticked down by 0.1 to 1.9 percent. But Hughes said that for the last eight months, the “quits rate” has been relatively stable in the 1.9 percent to 2.0 percent range. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who monitors this data on her labor market dashboard to help guide the Fed’s decisions on interest rates, would like to see it higher, closer to the 2.2 percent rate where it had been before the Great Recession, Hughes said.

Also today, the National Federation of Independent Businesses reported the results of its monthly survey, putting its index of optimism among small business owners at 98.3 in May, the second-highest level since the recession. The survey also said business owners are increasingly having trouble finding qualified people for some jobs, which tends to be a harbinger of wage growth for industries with niche skill sets, Hughes said.

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