Breaking: Job Openings Now at 7.1 Million

By Robert Half April 9, 2019 at 11:55am

Job openings were at 7.1 million on the last business day in February, down from 7.6 million openings in January. The number of workers who were hired, quit or were laid off were all little changed from the previous month. Following is a summary of key data from the just-released Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Job openings: 7.1 million
  • People hired: 5.7 million
  • People who left their jobs (total): 5.6 million
  • People who left their jobs (voluntarily quit): 3.5 million
  • People who left their jobs (layoff or involuntary reason): 1.7 million
  • People who left their jobs (retirement or other reason): 334,000

Despite the decrease in job openings, there are still more vacant positions than unemployed people in the U.S. Skilled workers have opportunities in today’s labor market – and they know it. This means you can’t just focus on your recruitment efforts. You also must make sure understand how to retain your best people – and how to respond quickly if you do lose a good employee. Here are some suggestions:

Focus on retention early on. Retention isn’t only about offering a competitive salary and appealing perks and benefits (although that’s obviously important). Your efforts to keep employees should begin the day you hire someone by setting up each new hire for success in their job. For instance, pairing new employees with mentors who can offer guidance in a new position can help. Read our post highlighting effective employee retention strategies for more tips.

Beware of flight risks. If a top performer is suddenly absent more frequently, starts to make sarcastic comments about the job or begins to avoid team lunches, for example, it could signal she’s dissatisfied at work and seeking employment elsewhere. Here are some more signs that employees are unhappy in their jobs.

Learn from losses. If the worst-case scenario does happen and you lose a valuable team member, it’s important to understand why that person left. Was it lack of a promotion? Poor work-life balance? Overwhelmed with too much work? Here are some exit interview questions to ask so you can get to the bottom of why the person is heading for the door and take corrective action if need be to prevent other top performers from departing.

Bring in reinforcements. The rest of your team can become overloaded if you do lose an employee, making it important to bring in reinforcements or hire a replacement fast. While this can be challenging in a competitive market, a specialized staffing agency such as Robert Half can help you quickly find talented temporary or full-time employees.

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