WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Job openings in the U.S. reached their highest level since 2001, with a high number of unfilled positions suggesting a revival in the labor market.
Job openings increased by 94,000 to 4.67 million for June, the highest in more than 13 years, according to data from the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. There were 4.58 million openings in May.
Job openings is one of the metrics closely followed by the Federal Reserve to gauge the health of the economy, as it decides when to raise short-term interest rates.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen is known to keenly follow this data, which lags other jobs data by a month. Increasing job openings, falling layoffs and an uptick in the number of people quitting their jobs would signal improvement in the labor market and economy, prompting the central bank to increase rates earlier than expected.
Job openings saw maximum increase at factories, retailers, and professional and business services. Tuesday's figures show there are two unemployed people per opening, still higher than the 1.8 job seekers per opening before the recession.
As these jobs are filled and hiring begins to pick up, it will see a lot more consumer confidence and spending, which is a big driver of the economy. Consumer spending, which accounts for 60 percent of the U.S. economy, has been the one of the few economic metrics to perform consistently well for the past few months.