If ever there was a job-seekers market, this is it. According to new figures from the U.S. Department of Labor, not only did the unemployment rate drop to 3.9% in April---the lowest since 2000---but the total number of job openings in the U.S. is now at 6.6 million, the most since the Labor Department began tracking the number in 2000. In fact, for the first time in years there are as many job openings nationwide as there are unemployed workers.
The Houston area is also seeing a hiring spree, with jobs numbers rebounding after a slight dip earlier this year. "What we're seeing is certainly more oil and gas related positions that trickle into the other parts of our economy," says Danann Smith, Metro Market Manager for Robert Half in Houston. "Construction is really great right now, including also manufacturing, and then moving into other things such as retail."
Another sign of increased competitiveness in the job market is the number of people quitting their jobs, now at its highest level since 2001. "We're seeing a lot more transition from one job to another," says Smith. "I think people are a lot more flexible in terms of looking at their career path, and whether or not they're ready to make a move, because the economy is better now."
The increased competitiveness for hiring leads to higher wages, which is another positive for the overall economy. Smith recommends employers move swiftly to fill all of those openings, or risk losing candidates to a competitor. "If you find someone you really like (for a job), go ahead and make the offer, and get them on board," she says.