Job Openings Rise to Record High While Hiring Slips in the U.S.


WASHINGTON, D.C.—A deluge of job openings flooded the domestic labor market in April, making it the best month for work availability in the data series' nearly 15-year history, according to a report released earlier this month by the Labor Department. The number of job openings in the U.S. rose in April to a record high of 6.04 million, according to the department's JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary) report.

As well, the pace of hiring slipped to a one-year low in another sign the economy is running out of people with enough skills to fill empty positions and the supply and demand equation reflects an increasing imbalance that will challenge employers across the country for the balance of 2017 and beyond.

The pace of hiring was the lowest since April 2016, reflecting the tightest labor market in 16 years. And the government said the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in May to mark the lowest level since 2001.

Openings for better paying manufacturing jobs fell by 30,000. The number of people hired dropped by 253,000 to 5.05 million in April. Even with a tight labor market, Americans do not appear interested in quitting their jobs in favor of a new one that might pay better. So-called quits also fell in April to 3 million.

So, what can employers do to ensure successful business continuity and employee retention? With decades of success in leading as well as advising companies though challenging times, we offer these four important points for you to follow in order to ensure your continued success:

1. The Uncommon Excellence Factor. Whether it is based on Team Surveys or conversations with team members, ask and seek information from your team members about the three to five most important and successful aspects of your business. Gaining consensus on these factors will allow you to build on your successes and allow your team members to be a part of those continued successes.

2. Talk and Transparency. The more you speak with your team members, the more they gain comfort discussing all points of interest, whether easy discussions or, in some cases, the conversations that are difficult. Frequent conversation will lead to a sense that there are not secrets and there are not conversations that are “off limits.”

3. Culture and Engagement. Communication, cooperation, collaboration, teamwork. Four of the most important words we convey when advising boards, executive leadership, business owners or business teams. When companies have these four words truly imbedded into their cultural fabric, rarely if ever does a company experience surprises, disappointments, unforeseen turnover or ineffective areas within their operation.

4. Recruit the Best. There is an old saying, “Recruit the best and lose the rest.” In truth, the point should be to always recruit the best—without compromise. The best of the best will understand, have experience and will truly reflect the first three points in their past work histories, allowing them to make a more seamless transition to your team and your company.

While times will be difficult in the coming months and year, stay the course on these four points to avoid being adversely affected by the changing employment market.

Hedley Lawson, Contributing Editor
Managing Partner
Aligned Growth Partners, LLC