There's good news in store for the long-stagnant U.S. labor market, if job listings are any guide.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday morning that the number of job openings grew from 4.6 million in May to 4.7 million in June, confirming a trend toward accelerating job creation in the first half of 2014.
Job listings had spiked by 7 percent in March, a giant increase that many analysts thought would reverse itself as job creation returned to the previous trend. But openings instead continue to multiply in the following months, suggesting that there might be a new trend of businesses creating jobs more rapidly.
Hiring has continued to lag the pace at which positions are being created. But hiring also picked up in June, increasing from 4.7 million to 4.8 million. Gross monthly hiring of above 5 million was typical in the years preceding the financial crisis.
The BLS' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey also included other signs that the weak labor market recovery is continuing to strengthen. In particular, 2.7 million Americans quit their jobs in the month, the most since the recovery began. Willingness to quit a job is usually interpreted as a sign that workers are more confident in the health of the labor market.
The improvement in job creation and hiring seen in the JOLTS data has also been reflected in net job growth. In 2014, the U.S. economy has added an average of 230,000 jobs a month, a marked improvement over the roughly 180,000-190,00 average that had prevailed since the jobs recovery began in 2010.
In the three months ending in July, that average is about 245,000. The lagging gross job creation numbers from the JOLTS suggest that the acceleration will continue in the months ahead.