The U.S. Labor Department has reported that employers advertised more jobs in June than at any other point within the past five years. The positive news was countered by the finding that employers are also hiring fewer workers, a mixed signal for the job market. Job openings rose by 29,000 over May, reaching 3.94 million; however, total hiring was down by 289,000 to 4.2 million—the biggest one month drop in three years.
Thanks to a continuing decline in layoffs to pre-recession levels, the job market is steadily improving, but many employers are still reluctant to hire on the tail of recent tax hikes and federal spending cuts. Slower global economic growth has also spurred diminishing confidence in the need for increased hiring. Additionally, the federal government has also reported just 162,000 jobs added in July, the fewest in four months.
The unemployment rate fell to a four-year low to 7.4 percent in July even as competition for jobs remains high. There were three unemployed people for every job opening in June, down from a ratio of 7 to 1 four years ago. The typical ratio in a healthy economy is 2 to 1.
Job openings experience the biggest increase in professional and business services, which includes jobs in the management and administrative fields. Jobs also increased in the retail and construction industries while falling in manufacturing, health care, and government. Hiring fell in every industry except arts, entertainment, and recreation, which includes jobs in music clubs and tourist attractions.