As job openings increase, so does job quitting

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers advertised the most jobs on record in July, and the number of workers quitting their jobs also hit a new all-time high.

Americans are increasingly taking advantage of a tight labor market to find new, often higher-paying jobs. That could help push up wages broadly across the economy.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of job openings rose

1.7 percent to 6.9 million, the most on record dating back to late 2000. The number of people quitting jumped

3 percent to 3.58 million, also a record. Quits are typically a good sign that jobs are plentiful because people usually quit when they have another job or are confident they can find one.

With the unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, near an 18-year low, businesses are increasingly desperate to find workers. Even as the number of available jobs rose, overall hiring in July was essentially flat, with about 5.7 million people finding jobs, the report showed.

The data are from the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, which tracks total job openings, quits and hiring.

The JOLTS report came after the government said that employers added a healthy 201,000 jobs in August. That figure represents the net total of jobs added, while the JOLTS data reports overall hires without subtracting quits, layoffs and resignations.

The jump in job openings in July suggests solid hiring will continue in the coming months.

With the economy growing at a healthy clip and consumers spending freely, em­ployers are optimistic about future demand and want to hire more. That appears to be finally pushing some employers to pay more, pushing up wages.

A more dynamic job market, with more people quitting and finding new work, can help fuel better wage gains.