WASHINGTON — U.S. employers advertised the most open jobs in April than at any time in the 15 years that the government has tracked the data, a sign that this year's steady hiring will likely continue.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of open jobs at the end of April jumped 5.2 percent to 5.4 million. The figure suggests that employers anticipate stronger customer demand in the months ahead.
The job market has remained healthy even as the economy faltered at the start of 2015. The steady hiring shows that businesses see the economic slump as having resulted mainly from temporary factors such as a harsh winter.
On Friday, the government said employers added a robust 280,000 jobs in May after a healthy gain in April. Average hourly wages also ticked up.
The unemployment rate rose to 5.5 percent, from 5.4 percent. But even that was partly good news: the improving job market and wage gains encouraged more people to start searching for work, reducing the number who had given up the hunt.
The figures reported in last Friday's jobs report are a net figure: Jobs gained minus jobs lost. The data reported Tuesday, in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, are more detailed. They calculate total hires, as well as quits and layoffs. Tuesday's numbers also reflect data for April, and are a month behind last week's jobs report.
The number of people quitting fell in April to 2.67 million, from 2.77 million in the previous month. Quits are an important sign of confidence among employees: most people quit when they have another job lined up, usually at higher pay.
Quits reached a seven-year high in January and are up nearly 11 percent in the past year, evidence that many people with jobs are willing to leave them in search of better pay.
Total hiring also fell, to 5 million from 5.1 million. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has said she closely watches the hiring and quits figures for clues about the job market's health. Fed policymakers will meet next week, and analysts expect they will keep short-term interest rates near zero, where they have been for more than six years.