WASHINGTON – Job openings in the U.S. climbed to a five-year high in October, indicating employers were confident about demand even as Washington’s budget impasse shuttered parts of the federal government.
The number of positions waiting to be filled rose by 42,000 to 3.925 million, the highest since May 2008, from a revised 3.883 million in September, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The pace of hiring decreased.
Gains in the job market could drive wage growth and boost consumer spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy. Employers added 188,600 workers on average from January through November, up from an average of about 179,500 in the same period last year.
“If we can create some jobs, the incomes that will be restored will be spent on goods and services,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist of Northern Trust Corp. in Chicago and a former senior vice president at the Chicago Fed, said before the report. “That will create better revenue and profits for businesses, that’ll generate maybe some additional hiring as they expand to meet the demand, and a virtuous cycle will really start to roll.”
The Labor Department revised the number of openings in September from a previously reported 3.91 million.
American distributors boosted stockpiles in October by the most in two years, signaling companies were gearing up for a pickup in demand, figures from the Commerce Department also showed today. Wholesale inventories climbed 1.4 percent, the most since October 2011, after a 0.5 percent gain in September that was larger than previously estimated.
Stocks were little changed as investors watched budget negotiations in Washington and weighed the timing of any cuts to Federal Reserve stimulus. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was at 1,808.2 at 10:41 a.m. in New York after closing at a record 1,808.37 yesterday.