Employers posted a record-high 11.5 million job openings in March, meaning the United States has two job openings for every unemployed individual.
The latest data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics further shows an incredibly tight labor market enticing millions of Americans to seek better-paying jobs while contributing to the most significant inflation increase in four decades.
March also had a record-high 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs, a that they are confident of finding better pay or improved working conditions in another company or field.
Layoffs, which initially ran around 1.8 million a month before the pandemic impacted the economy in early 2020, increased to 1.4 million in March from 1.35 million in February.
Employers have also added an average of over 540,000 jobs a month for the past year. According to FactSet’s survey, the Labor Department is expected to report on Friday that the economy generated another 400,000 new jobs in April.
It would mark an unprecedented 12th straight month that hiring is at 400,000 or more.
The U.S. economy fought back with unexpected strength from 2020’s brief but devastating pandemic recession, fueled by massive government spending and meager interest rates by the Federal Reserve.
Surprised by the sudden rebound in consumer demand, companies scrambled to hire workers and stock their inventory. They had no choice but to raise wages while traffic overwhelmed factories, ports, and freight yards, resulting in shipping delays and higher prices.
In March, consumer prices rose 8.5% from a year earlier, the hottest inflation since 1981.
With the Fed is also raising short-term interest rates to fight inflation, the COVID stimulus gone from the federal government, and war in Ukraine clouding the economic outlook, where things go from here is uncertain, according to the report.
Despite the rise in job openings, the country is still 1.6 million short in jobs from February 2020, before the pandemic hit the economy. It does not count the additional jobs that a growing economy should have added. However, the market looks strong as of now, the report said.
“Employees have strong job security and confidence in their ability to find new work,″ said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “The labor market is still very much a job seeker’s market. Something dramatic will have to happen for this to change anytime soon.″
This article originally appeared on The Associated Press.