The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) JOLTS report found the number of job openings hit a high of 7.3 million on the last business day of December. The consensus forecast was calling for a much lower 6.9 million.
The job openings rate was 4.7%.
“This almost guarantees labor force participation will continue to trend higher through the first half of this year,” TJM Investment analyst Tim Anderson said in a comment to PPD after the report.
JOLTS, or Job Openings and Labor Turnover, tracks the monthly change in job openings and rates on hiring and quits. It lags data from the Employment Situation, or monthly jobs report.
The latest jobs report found the labor force participation rate climbed to the highest level since 2013, while wages rose by 3% or greater for six consecutive months. In the fourth-quarter (Q4) 2018, workers’ wages saw the largest gain since Q3 2008.
For December, it found hires and separations were little changed at 5.9 million and 5.5 million, respectively. Within separations, the quit rate was little changed at 2.3% as was the layoffs and discharges rate at 1.1%.