Milestone for US job market: More openings than unemployed | AP business

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For the first time in at least two decades there are more job openings in the U.S. than the number of people unemployed.

For the first time in 20 years, there are more job openings in the United States than there are job seekers, the Department of Labor said.

Employers appear confident about the economic outlook and growth.

The labor market is viewed as being either near or at full employment, with the jobless rate at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent.

The Labor Department classifies people as unemployed if they do not have a job, are available to work and have actively looked for a job in the previous four weeks. Jobs abound in some of the lowest-paying fields as well-there were 844,000 accommodation and food service jobs open in April and 735,000 unfilled retail positions.

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When workers are confident they can find another job, they quit their current ones more frequently.

"Given these trends, the sluggish wage growth rate is even more perplexing", Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told USA Today.

In addition to increasing compensation offers, employers may need to broaden their search parameters, commit to train imperfect new hires and invest in automation to do more with the same number or fewer workers. In April 2000, the last time the unemployment rate was at 3.8 percent, hourly pay was up almost 4 percent. For example, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta show that workers who switch jobs are starting to enjoy healthier pay gains. That is a sign that companies are willing to pay more to lure workers from other companies.

The manufacturing of long-lasting durable goods, including airplanes and machinery, saw some of the biggest increases in job vacancies in April, in addition to the information sector.

The data also showed just 6.35 million workers categorized as unemployed, down from 6.59 million in March. Wages for job-stayers were up just 2.9 per cent in April, compared with 3.7 per cent six months earlier.