(CN) – On the heels of a dismal report on newly created jobs, the Labor Department said Monday that American employers hired a record number of people in April as job openings dropped slightly.
Companies filled 5.9 million positions in April, the most reported since the government started tracking the statistic in late 2000. It marks a 4.2% increase from the month before.
Hiring was strongest in construction, finance and business services like engineering and accounting.
Meanwhile, the number of open jobs fell slightly from 7.5 million in March to 7.4 million in April, according to the government’s report, signaling that demand for labor has declined somewhat but the jobs market is still relatively strong.
The number of people who quit their jobs in April was little changed at 3.5 million. While worker departures can be a headache for employers, economists see them as a positive sign because most people who quit do so for higher-paying positions.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added only 75,000 new jobs in May, compared to 224,000 in April, indicating a slowdown that occurred after the record 5.9 million hires.
The unemployment rate has stayed the same at 3.6%, the lowest level in nearly 50 years.
The gross domestic product, a primary indicator of economic health, grew at a 3.1% rate in the first quarter of this year, but economists predict it will slow to 2% or lower for the April-June quarter as effects from the 2017 tax cuts fade.
President Donald Trump’s year-long trade war with Beijing also shows no sign of ending, as his administration last month levied additional tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion in Chinese products and has threatened to extend the tariffs further.
On Friday night, Trump backed down from his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico, announcing on Twitter that the U.S. had made a deal with its southern neighbor to reduce the flow of immigrants into the southern border.