U.S. employers posted more job openings in May than April, the federal Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
But with the rate of separations keeping pace with the number of hires, a New Jersey economist said businesses are not likely to advertise more positions this summer.
"With payroll job growth extraordinarily weak in June, we'll probably continue to see hires greater than separations, but the gap is going to narrow further," said James W. Hughes, dean of Rutgers University's Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. "This is probably a spring and summer swoon, and we may see some stabilization over summer, but given the gridlock in Washington … most likely, corporations are not going to make any big decisions."
According to Labor, job openings rose by a seasonally adjusted 195,000, from 3.4 million in April to 3.6 million in May. Since Labor reported that 12.7 million workers were unemployed in May, there was an average of 3.5 unemployed people for each open position — down from an average of 3.7 per opening in April.
"There's been a funny pattern over the last five months as job openings grew in January and February, peaked in March, completely dropped off in April and then picked up in May," Hughes said. "My guess is the mild winter had some impact with taking openings and moving them up a few months. May was not too different from April, and that's in line with jobs payroll data that showed modest change and very, very modest growth. There's a little more churn in the labor market now."
Hughes said one positive report in today's data is the number of people who have quit their jobs — which increased from 2.01 million in May 2011 to 2.143 million in May 2012.
"That's a good thing with more people quitting, because it means their confidence goes up and people are moving on to other things," Hughes said. "While that only increased slightly from April, it's substantial compared to last year."
On Friday, Labor revised May's job numbers to 77,000 and reported employment increased by 80,000 jobs in June, holding the national unemployment rate at 8.2 percent.