Job Openings Set New Record in March

“There is little sign of cooling in the greatest job seekers’ market of all time.”

May 04, 2022

Understaffed Sign

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—March saw a seasonally adjusted 11.5 million job openings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, up from 11.3 million job openings in February and setting a new record previously set in December 2021 at 11.4 million job openings.

A record amount of people quit their jobs in March—4.5 million, which is slightly higher than the previous record of quits set in November 2021. In March, 6.7 million people were hired.

Job postings for larger employers (5,000+ workers) have more than doubled since February 2020, and manufacturing, retail, education and professional services have seen the largest increases. Openings reached their highest levels on record in the South.

“There is little sign of cooling in the greatest job seekers’ market of all time,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist of ZipRecruiter. “As businesses continue to face high turnover, and the gap between demand for labor and supply widens yet further, businesses will continue to experience upward pressure on wages.”

The average hourly earnings for workers in the private sector were 5.6% higher than the year before in March, rising significantly faster than the roughly 3% rate recorded the year before the pandemic began, according to the Labor Department.

Despite wage growth, consumers are feeling poorer, as the consumer-price index is at 8.5%, which is the highest it’s been in over four decades.

“It’s an incredibly tight labor market, but the problem for workers is that, yes, there is a 5.6% nominal wage growth, and they have a tremendous amount of power at the moment, but at the same time, they see the 8.5% inflation rate, and when combined, they are seeing a negative 2.9% real wage growth,” said John Benson, director at Alix Partners, at the NACS SOI Summit earlier this month. (Look for exclusive coverage of the SOI Summit in the June issue of NACS Magazine.)

Nearly 1 in 5 prime-age workers (ages 25 to 54) say they plan to leave their job within a year, and 26% say that only plan to stay at their job for one to two years. The historical average for job duration is four years.

Of those who have taken a new job, 64% say their current job pays more than their previous job, with nearly half of the job-switchers saying they received at least an 11% raise. Nearly 9% are now making at least 50% more.

In the convenience and fuel retailing industry, 2021 turnover was 118.8% for full-time store associates and 181.6% for part-time store associates, according to the NACS State of the Industry Compensation Report of 2021 Data. Turnover for store-level managers in 2021 stood at 28%.

Wages for a full-time hourly associate in a convenience store rose to $13.14 in 2021, up 10.5% from 2020, NACS SOI Compensation Report data indicate. Part-time associate wages increased 12.3% to $12.45 an hour. (View the infographic in By the Numbers in the March issue of NACS Magazine.)

The New York Times recently conducted a focus group of 12 millennial Americans ages 26 to 33 to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their young careers.

“Prior to the pandemic, I think employers thought that employees were expendable and worked for their benefit. And now with the Great Resignation, I feel like it’s kind of turned the tables,” said Alexa, a 26-year-old credit analyst. “Employees have a lot of power. And so I think employers need to be able to show employees that they do care and value them.”