Job openings and the number of times workers quit reached the highest levels on record in March, as a shortage of available workers continued to pressure the U.S. labor market.
The Labor Department on Tuesday reported a seasonally adjusted 11.5 million job openings in March, an increase from 11.3 million the prior month. The number of times workers quit their jobs rose to 4.5 million in the same month, slightly higher than the previous record in November of last year. Meanwhile, hiring cooled slightly from the month before to 6.7 million hires in March.
Separate private-sector estimates showed that demand for labor remained red-hot through April. Jobs site ZipRecruiter said employers had about 11 million job openings last month.
Consumer-facing industries such as accommodation and food services, along with arts and entertainment, had the highest rate of job openings in March, according to the Labor Department. Job openings in the healthcare industry were also near record highs.
According to a ZipRecruiter analysis of Labor Department data, job postings at larger employers—those with more than 5,000 workers—have more than doubled since February 2020. Manufacturing, retail, education and professional services have seen the largest increases. Openings reached their highest levels on record in the South.
The March job openings total was higher than the previous record of 11.4 million in December, according to the Labor Department.
“There is little sign of cooling in the greatest job seekers’ market of all time,” said
chief economist of ZipRecruiter. “As businesses continue to face high turnover, and the gap between demand for labor and supply widens yet further, businesses will continue to experience upward pressure on wages.”
The number of job openings continues to exceed the number of unemployed people seeking work. In March, there were nearly two job openings for every unemployed person, according to the Labor Department. Openings have outpaced the level of unemployed people seeking jobs since last spring.
Employers have had difficulty hiring from the limited pool of available workers, and millions of people are expected to remain on the sidelines indefinitely. That has also pushed up wages.
Bryan Simmons is a behavioral psychologist who started his own therapeutic services business in October 2020, treating patients with developmental disabilities such as autism.
Mr. Simmons said he has offered wages “much higher than the industry standard” to successfully compete for therapists.
“I remember I asked one of my current workers in particular how much money they would need to make to be happy and…