Job openings dipped from record highs in April as companies continued to grapple with the labor shortage

Job openings dipped from record highs in April as companies continued to grapple with the labor shortage
Now Hiring signs are displayed in front of restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on March 19, 2022.STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
  • US job openings fell to 11.4 million in April, according to JOLTS data published Wednesday.
  • That matched the median forecast for 11.4 million openings and came in below the March record.

Job openings remained extraordinarily elevated through April as businesses continued to struggle with rehiring and swaths of Americans remained on the labor market's sidelines.

The number of nationwide openings totaled 11.4 million at the end of April, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Wednesday morning. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected openings to dip to 11.4 million through the month. The March sum was revised to 11.9 million from 11.5 million, leaving the April report to show a small dip from the previous month's reading.

Openings declined the most at health care and social assistance businesses, with the sector shedding 266,000 job listings through the month. Retailers followed with a decline of 162,000 openings, while hotels and restaurants lost 113,000 openings in April.

Transportation, warehousing, and utilities businesses saw the largest increase in openings, with such firms adding 97,000 listings. Nondurable goods manufacturers took on 67,000 openings, and durable goods manufacturers followed with a 53,000-opening uptick, signaling continued strength in the industry as demand continues to outstrip supply.

The monthly JOLTS release offers economists a detailed look at just how the labor shortage trended early in the second quarter. While the pandemic recovery has featured a superlative rebound in US payrolls, it's also boasted a historic gap between labor demand and worker availability. For reasons ranging from child care pressures to virus fears, millions of Americans are still not participating in the workforce, meaning they're not employed or actively looking for work. With participation much slower to recover than overall payrolls, businesses have struggled to hire and retain employees.


That's also why the unemployment rate is so low. Since those Americans aren't actively seeking jobs, they aren't counted as unemployed in the headline U-3 unemployment rate. As such, the 3.6% rate seen through April is somewhat misleading, as there are many Americans who were working before the pandemic and have yet to return to the labor market.

The latest data shows little change in the imbalance through April. The number of available workers for every job opening held at 0.5, matching the record low first seen in March. It usually takes several years for a post-recession economy to experience such a tight labor market. Even then, the US hasn't seen such a wide gap between workers and openings since at least 2000, when JOLTS data collection began.

The abundance of openings has also contributed to the months-long wave of quitting. Quits reached 4.4 million in April, according to the Wednesday report, falling slightly from March's total and marking the eleventh consecutive month of more than 4 million walkouts. Such widespread quitting tends to occur when workers are confident in their ability to leave their current job for better work elsewhere. With openings almost doubling the pre-crisis count, the quitting streak suggests Americans are still taking advantage of strong demand for workers.