U.S. job openings surge to record high in January

The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, released by the Labor Department on Friday showed job openings increased by 645,000 to a seasonally adjusted 6.3 million. That was the highest level since the data series started in December 2000 and pushed the job openings rate up four-tenths of a percentage point to 4.1 percent.

“We believe employers are going to have to pay up to fill the openings, leading to stronger wage growth and sustained consumer spending increases,” said Ron Temple, head of U.S. equities at Lazard Asset Management in New York.

Wage growth has remained moderate despite the unemployment rate falling to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. Economists expect wage increases to pick up in the second-half of the year, which should lift inflation toward the Fed’s 2 percent target.