U.S. Job Openings Jumped to a 15-Year High in April; Wholesale Inventories Up

U.S. Job Openings Jumped to a 15-Year High in AprilToday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of job openings rose to 5.4 million on the last business day of April, the highest since the series began in December 2000. (Source: U.S Department of Labor, June 9, 2015.)

April’s numbers were up from five million job openings in March. The job openings rate for April was 3.7%, which was an increase for total private jobs and essentially unchanged for government jobs. At the industry level, job openings rose over the month in healthcare and social assistance; falling in arts, entertainment, and recreation. In the regions, job openings increased in the West.

In a separate report, the National Federation of Independent Business said its Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.4 points to 98.3 in May, the highest reading since December. (Source: NFIB , June 9, 2015.)

On Friday June 5, 2015, the government said employers added a robust 280,000 jobs in May after a healthy gain in April. Average hourly wages also ticked up.

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U.S. Wholesale Inventories Up in April

In another report, the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories increased 0.4% after rising 0.2% in March. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, June 9, 2015.)

Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product (GDP) changes. The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of GDP—wholesale stocks excluding autos—rose 0.2%, suggesting inventories will probably be a modest boost to growth in the second quarter.

The overall U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter of 2015 and U.S. GDP declined at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first three months of 2015. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, last accessed June 9, 2015.)

Fed Outlook

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise the federal funds rate this year. Hence, policy makers in the Federal Reserve are closely monitoring the labor market.

“This improvement in the labor market has brought the economy closer to one of the two goals of monetary policy assigned to the Fed by Congress—maximum employment. Less progress has been made toward the other goal, price stability,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in Rhode Island on May 22, 2015. She added, “It is only now, six years after the recession ended, that the labor market is approaching its full strength.” (Source: The Federal Reserve, last accessed June 9, 2015.)