The number of advertised job openings rose to a record-high 6.2 million in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.
Tuesday's release marked the first time that advertised job vacancies cleared the 6 million mark, which had been approached but not hit a few times in the past few years of the recovery. The data goes back to December of 2000.
Thanks to the month's strong job creation, there is almost one advertised job opening for every unemployed worker. The ratio of unemployed workers to openings was 1.1, the lowest since 2001. In contrast, that ratio spiked to over 6 during the depths of the recession.
While the record high in job openings was good news, actual hiring declined in the month, and the number of workers quitting their jobs — a gauge of confidence in the jobs market — wasn't significantly changed.
The new data for Tuesday comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, a report that includes more fine-grained detail on the jobs market than the monthly jobs report. JOLTS, as it is known, is released on a one-month lag from the payroll jobs report, but is still valued by investors and Federal Reserve officials because it contains valuable information about hiring and layoffs.
The report shows that layoffs have become rarer and rarer in the past year, with about one worker in 100 getting laid off per month.
With layoffs so infrequent, it doesn't take much net job creation to keep the unemployment rate trending down. In July, according to the monthly jobs report, unemployment stood at 4.3 percent, already below the point that Fed officials think would signal a fully healthy economy. Yet job creation has averaged 195,000 over the past three months, about twice as much as is needed to keep up with population growth to maintain a steady unemployment rate.
That is good news for President Trump, suggesting that the long-running jobs recovery is not at risk of petering out in the near term.
It also will come as validation to Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen and others at the central bank who have charted a course to raising interest rates and withdrawing stimulus this year on the belief that the strong jobs market must eventually translate to higher wages and inflation.
"An economy at full employment eventually sends off the sparks of inflation," noted MUFG chief financial economist Chris Rupkey. "The Fed has no justification for keeping rates down here at less than normal levels."