By Xuanyan Ouyang
Employers hired more new workers in November, indicating the nation’s labor market continues its expansion, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Labor Tuesday.
The number of hires rose by 3.6% to 5.2 million in November, the Bureau’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover report said. Data in the report also suggested some employers are now having trouble filling certain positions: the number of job openings increased by 3.7 percent, to 5.4 million.
Number of People Hired
The report is “consistent with our view that the labor market will continue to improve, but that we will see some moderation in job growth,” J.P. Morgan economist Daniel Silver said in an online note.
The latest data “indicates the potential for continuing and solid job growth,” said Joel Naroff, an economic strategist and advisor.
“While this report ain’t showing any big growth in openings, the level is still pretty high,” Naroff said, “and the labor market is still in good shape. ”
Hires in the accommodation and food services sectors increased by 59,000 and 40,000 respectively. In contrast, hires dropped by 4,000 in the health care sector, as employers apparently found difficulty in finding qualified candidates.
As a result, job openings showed the strongest growth in industries such as health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, while unfilled positions in the construction industry were much smaller.
The latest report suggests “the labor market is tight,” said Naroff, explaining that accommodation, food services and construction are low-skilled industries and have high turnover while higher skills are required in health care which lacks qualified workers.
The report also noted that the number of people quitting their jobs was also on the rise, increasing by 1.7% to 2.8 million. The so-called “quits” figure is considered an important statistic because it offers clues about workers’ confidence in the economy.
Number of People Who Quit Their Jobs
The quit figure is still relatively low, but the fact that it is rising indicates that “workers are more confident to start moving around. It has not been done for a decade,” the economist said.
But Naroff said that after years of slack labor demand, workforce tightness promises to become a challenge to U.S. businesses.
With a shrinking pool of available workers, he concluded, “The big issue facing businesses this year will be keeping wages under control.”