Job openings in United States just hit a record

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The job openings in March matched the number of people unemployed, which is highly unusual as the unemployment rate has historically been higher, The Associated Press noted.

The ratio peaked at 6.6 unemployed people per job opening in July 2009 and has been falling steadily ever since.

The release included estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by four geographic regions. Job growth slowed in March and April after an outsized gain in February.

With rising vacancies nearly helping to close the gap with the ranks of the unemployed, the job market is increasingly tight.

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US employers advertised 6.6 million open jobs in March, the most on records dating back to December 2000, suggesting businesses want to staff up to meet strong demand.

The Employment Cost Index, widely seen by policymakers and economists as one of the better measures of labor market slack, showed wages rising at their fastest pace in 11 years in the first quarter. As a result, the quits rate, which policymakers and economists view as a measure of job market confidence, rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.3 percent.

Layoffs fell 56,000 to 1.56 million in March. But now, with wage gains sluggish, employers may be willing to post jobs because they don't need to pay so much.

Bunker added that economic research by the Federal Reserve suggests employers aren't poaching as many workers who already have jobs as they have in the past. That's left more jobs unfilled. More Americans are staying in their jobs rather than switching to new ones for higher pay. Workers typically quit when they have other jobs lined up, or are confident they can find one. Over time, such a trend would likely increase average wages.