Wednesday, September 09, 2015

US Job Openings Soar To Record High Of 5.8 Million In July

A worker cleans the sidewalk in front of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Labor Department releases its job openings and labor turnover survey for July on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of available jobs jumped sharply in July to the highest level in 15 years, evidence that confident employers sought to step up hiring to meet greater demand for their goods and services.

Job openings soared 8 percent to 5.75 million, the most since records began in 2000, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Yet overall hiring slumped, suggesting that employers are slow to fill the jobs they have advertised.

The big jump in openings in July would typically point to greater hiring in the months ahead. Yet China's economy stumbled in August, raising fears among investors of weaker global growth and causing violent swings in the U.S. and overseas stock markets.

That may cause employers to take a cautious approach in coming months toward actually placing people in open positions. At the same time, the sharp rise in available jobs could lead to larger paychecks. As more employers compete to fill available jobs, they may be forced to raise wages to attract candidates from the dwindling number of unemployed.

The surge in openings may also be a sign that employers are having difficulty finding workers with the skills they need. That would leave jobs open for longer periods and boost the number of positions available.

"The data ... now signal unambiguously that the labor market is unable to supply the people companies need," Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note to clients. "Usually, that means wages will accelerate, though the evidence for that now is mixed."
In the past 12 months, average hourly pay has increased just 2.2 percent, up from a 2 percent pace in July. But that is below the 3.5 percent to 4 percent that is typical in a healthy economy. While the number of available jobs surged in July, the overall pace of hiring slowed. Employers hired 4.98 million workers that month, down from 5.18 million in June. In the past year, open jobs have leapt nearly 22 percent, while total hiring has actually slipped.

Economists point to several reasons for the gap between openings and hiring. Some note that businesses are increasingly seeking high-skilled workers in fields that are in short supply, such as software programmers, data analysts, and cybersecurity specialists. Jobs with more complex skills can also take longer to fill than lower-skilled positions because it can take longer to evaluate candidates for those jobs, recruiters say.

Companies may also not be offering high enough pay to attract the employees they need. And businesses are more likely to use background checks, skill tests and extensive interviews before making job offers, according to Glassdoor, a jobs and recruiting website. That has slowed the hiring process.

The figures come after last Friday's jobs report pointed to steady, if modest, hiring. Employers added 173,000 jobs in August, the fewest in five months, but job gains in June and July were revised higher.
The job gains reported by the government on Friday are a net total: Jobs gained minus jobs lost. The data reported Wednesday, in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, are more detailed. They calculate total hires, as well as quits and layoffs.

Wednesday's JOLTS data contain figures for July, a month behind last week's jobs report. The unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in August, the lowest in seven years, from 5.3 percent. Still, a broader measure that includes those looking for work, people working part-time but who would prefer full-time jobs, and Americans who have stopped looking for jobs, stood at 10.3 percent. That suggests the job market isn't quite as healthy as the unemployment rate would indicate.

Contact Chris Rugaber on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber .

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Clinton Threatens Military Action If Iran Breaks Deal

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, about the Iran nuclear agreement and other topics. Clinton is making the case for the international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions as Congress opens debate on the accord.


 WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a hardline warning to Iran on Wednesday that as president she would "not hesitate" to take military action to stop the country from acquiring nuclear weapons.

 Casting herself as a key player in talks that led to the landmark agreement to control Iran's nuclear program, Clinton praised the accord as part of a larger Middle East strategy even as she stressed that it is not a step toward normalizing relations.

"We should anticipate that Iran will test the next president," she told a Washington think-tank. "They'll want to see how far they can bend the rules." The Democratic presidential contender and former secretary of state said: "That won't work if I'm in the White House. I'll hold the line against Iranian noncompliance."

She coupled her remarks about the Iran deal with a call to convene an emergency gathering at the United Nations to tackle the crisis of Syrian and other refugees flooding Europe. She said the crisis is a "global responsibility," the U.S. should lead the effort and countries at the conference could pledge to accept migrants or donate aid money.

Clinton spoke as Congress prepared to open debate Wednesday on the deal. Democrats have clinched the votes needed to block passage of a disapproval resolution against the accord, a win for the White House against united Republican opposition.

But much of the responsibility for enacting the agreement will fall on the next administration, making the issue likely to linger in the presidential campaign. The deal would require Iran to limit its nuclear program for at least a decade in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions.
Republicans are seizing on opposition to the deal among much of Congress and many American Jews to criticize Clinton, frequently casting the agreement as a plank of an "Obama-Clinton foreign policy." A new Pew survey released on Tuesday found that just 21 percent of Americans approved of the deal — a 12-point drop since mid-July.

In her remarks, Clinton attempted to reassure skeptics by threatening serious penalties for violations, including possible military action. She offered strong support for Israel, whose leaders strongly oppose the agreement, promising that if elected she would invite the country's prime minister to the White House during her first month in office.

"The Iranians and the world need to understand that we will act decisively if we need to," she said. "As president, I will take whatever actions are necessary to protect the United States and its allies."
But even as she offered a stern warning to Iran, she stressed that rejecting the deal would lead to international isolation for the U.S. "Several Republicans boast they'll tear up this agreement in 2017," she said. "That's not leadership, that's recklessness."

Instead, she proposed measures to halt Iran's support for terrorist groups and other bad behavior in the region. Clinton called for expanding the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf and increasing support to Israel and other allies in the region. She also proposed building a coalition to crack down on weapons shipments to Hamas and to counter terrorist organizations financed by Iran, such as Hezbollah.

Another goal: Press countries in the region to block ships and aircraft of Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, from entering their territory. As secretary of state, Clinton helped facilitate the talks that eventually led to the nuclear deal. She sent a top adviser to participate in secret meetings with Iran through the sultan of Oman that started the international negotiations.
Since then, she's largely backed the negotiations, staying current with the talks with regular briefings from administration officials, according to aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss private meetings publicly.

Clinton's current support for the deal marks a striking role reversal for the second-time presidential candidate and her long-ago rival. In 2008, she called Barack Obama's offer to meet Iran's leader without preconditions "irresponsible and, frankly, naive." And when Clinton said she would "obliterate" Iran if the country used nuclear weapons against Israel, Obama likened her "bluster" to the "tough talk" of then-President George W. Bush.

More recently, she's wondered publicly whether a deal would ever take shape. Clinton told an American Jewish organization last year that she was "skeptical the Iranians will follow through and deliver." She said she had "seen many false hopes dashed through the years."

Follow Lisa Lerer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/llerer