(CN) – American employers advertised slightly more open jobs in October, suggesting a positive outlook on the part of businesses in the face of economic worries.
“Broadly speaking, the economy is continuing to move along. We seem to mostly be on track to move towards full employment, but there is still some slack,” Elise Gould, senior economist at the nonprofit think tank Economic Policy Institute, said in a phone interview.
The number of job openings increased by 235,000 to 7.27 million on the last business day of the month, up 3.3% from September, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday.
The record high of 7.63 million job openings was set in November 2018.
Gould noted most economic indicators like job openings are not as strong as last year, but also said the effects of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China don’t seem to be hitting U.S. employers very hard.
“The ripple effects have not been large, at this point,” she said.
Job openings have outpaced the number of unemployed Americans for nearly two years, a trend that began in March 2018. With the unemployment rate at a 50-year low of 3.5%, there are about 1.41 million more available positions than jobless people.
Gould said this trend is not common, but noted the Labor Department’s job openings data only goes back to 2000.
“We have been seeing the economy get tighter,” she said. “But…the unemployment rate is overstating a bit the strength of the labor market. So when you count the unemployed, you’re not actually counting all the people who might be happy to jump into the labor market if they had more opportunities.”
There were 125,000 more retail trade jobs advertised in October, and gains of 56,000 in finance and insurance and 50,000 in the durable goods manufacturing sector. Employers advertised 36,000 fewer open jobs in nondurable goods manufacturing, 33,000 fewer openings in the information sector, and 26,000 fewer postings in arts, entertainment and recreation.
The number of people quitting their jobs ticked up to 3.5 million, an increase of 41,000. New hires fell slightly to 5.76 million, about 187,000 fewer than the month before.