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Workers Show Increasing Confidence in Jobs Market

July 19, 2013


More Americans are quitting their jobs, suggesting many are growing more
confident in the job market.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of people who quit their jobs
in April jumped 7.2 percent to 2.25 million. That's just below February's level,
which was the highest in 4 1/2 years.

Overall hiring also picked up in April, though not as dramatically. Employers
filled 4.4 million jobs in April, a 5 percent increase from March. Hiring fell
in March and April's level was below February's.

The report offered a reminder that the job market is far from healthy. The
number of available jobs slipped fell 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 3.75
million. Openings had reached a five- year high in February and remain nearly 7
percent higher than a year ago.

Still, the growth in hiring and quits provides more evidence of a dynamic job
market that is making slow but steady strides. It follows Friday's May
employment report, which showed the economy added a net 175,000 net jobs last
month. That's roughly in line with the average monthly gain over the past two

Most workers quit their jobs when they have a new position or feel con- fident
that they can find one quickly. And when they do, it opens up more opportunities
for other Americans, including the unemployed.

Janet Yellen, vice chair of the Federal Reserve, has said the Fed is monitoring
data on quits and overall hiring for signs that the job market is improving in a
sustainable way.

The Fed says it will continue its ambitious program of bond purchases until
employment improves substan- tially.

The report, known as the Job Openings and Labor T\imover survey, provides the
total number of people hired and laid off each month. It's dif- ferent from the
department's monthly jobs report, which provides each month's net job gain or
loss and the unemployment rate. By quantifying total hiring and layoffs, the
JOLTS report paints a fuller picture of what employers are doing.

For example, for the past two years net job gains have averaged about 180,000
per month. But much that gain reflects a decline in layoffs, rather than more
overall hiring.

Layoffs fell to the lowest level on records dating back to 2001 in January. They
have since increased slightly but are still below pre-reces- sion levels.

Fed officials and economists want to see overall hiring pick up because it would
indicate businesses are confi- dent enough to add more workers.

Despite April's increases, overall hiring and quits are still below pre-
recession figures. Total hiring topped 5 million in most months before the
recession began in December 2007. That's 14 percent higher than April's level.

Monthly quits were typically around 2.8 million before the reces- sion. That's
24 percent higher than April.

The job market remains very com- petitive for those looking for work. There were
3.1 unemployed workers, on average, for each open job in April. In a healthy
economy, the ratio is 2 to 1.

The drop in openings suggests that job gains may not pick up from their current
modest pace in the coming months.

Openings have risen much faster than total hiring since June 2009, when the
recession ended. The num- ber of available jobs has increased 58 percent since
then, but total hiring has increased only 22 percent

That's a sign companies are slow to fill the jobs they have posted. Many
employers have become more selec- tive and cautious about hiring since the
recession. Some may not be offer- ing enough pay to attract the candi- dates
they need. Other companies, particularly in information technology and
manufacturing, say they can't find enough qualified workers.

Source: Copyright Chicago Defender (IL) 2013

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