WASHINGTON — U.S. employers sharply ramped up their demand for workers in January, advertising 6.3 million jobs at the end of the month, the most on records dating back 17 years.
The number of job opening soared 645,000 in January, the Labor Department said Friday, the largest one-month increase in 2
The huge demand for workers comes as the unemployment rate is already at a 17-year low of 4.1
The data could fuel debates about whether a "skills gap" has made it harder for companies to fill open positions. Business groups argue that many jobs, particularly in manufacturing, administrative work, and information technology, require greater or different skill sets than in the past, and not enough workers have them.
Some economists respond that businesses should offer higher wages if they are truly desperate for more employees. Americans' paychecks have picked up a bit in recent years, but by most measures the gains are still sluggish compared with previous periods when the unemployment rate was this low.
The report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, shows that job openings surged nearly 16
In a study released this week, Burning Glass, a
In information technology, for example, there are 17
Many of those jobs also combine certain skills, such as software development and business analysis skills. Training for such "hybrid jobs" is more complicated and less available than for more straightforward jobs, Burning Glass' report said. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored Burning Glass's research.
In other cases, employers are undercutting their own efforts. In office and administrative work, there are 5
But many employers increasingly demand four-year college degrees for those jobs, narrowing the number of prospective applicants. For example, 37
This so-called "upskilling" accelerated during the slow recovery from the Great Recession, when employers had a much broader pool of workers to choose from. But with the unemployment rate possibly dropping below 4
Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press