(CN) — Employers advertised fewer job openings in May, even as the proportion of people quitting their jobs reached the highest level since April 2001, the Labor Department said Tuesday.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings edged down to 6.6 million on the last business day of May, from a revised April level of 6.8 million.
The number of job openings decreased in every region of the country but the South.
The bureau said overall they declined by 228,000 for private-sector employers, were little changed for government employers.
In fact, the federal government actually say an increase in job openings listed (+12,000).
Employers in mining and logging also advertised more jobs (+10,000) but those in information technology, arts, entertainment, and recreation all posted thousands of fewer openings.
Meanwhile, the number of hires was little changed at 5.8 million in May, but the month saw a dramatic increase in the number of people who quit their jobs, a jump of 212,000 to 3.6 million over the previous month.
The departure mostly impacted private sector employers, who saw 204,000 workers quit their jobs.
Quits increased in health care and social assistance (+55,000), finance and insurance (+21,000), and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+20,000).
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.