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Economic Report: U.S. job openings rise to all-time high — and workers quitting also sets new record

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The numbers: U.S. job openings climbed to a record 11.55 in March — and the number of people quitting also hit an all-time high — in another sign of a historically tight labor market.

The number of people who quit jobs in March rose to 4.54 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Quits topped 4 million last summer for the first time ever. And it’s now happened 10 months in a row, part of a pandemic-era trend that’s become known as “The Great Resignation.”

Before the pandemic, the number of people quitting jobs averaged fewer than 3 million a month. Most who quit are finding new jobs.

There’s almost two open jobs for every unemployed person, though companies never try to fill all of them. The number of openings is largely viewed as a way to assess the strength of the labor market.

Big picture: The tightest labor market in decades has been a boon for workers and a headache for businesses. People are switching jobs for better pay and conditions and companies can’t fill open jobs fast enough.

The result is higher wages for workers, but companies aren’t able to produce enough goods and services to keep up with demand.

The big question is, how long can the golden age for labor last?

The Federal Reserve is moving to raise U.S. interest rates to try to bring down the highest inflation in 40 years, but some former officials don’t think the central can succeed without triggering a recession.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.15%

and S&P 500
SPX,
+0.07%

fell in Wednesday trades.

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