The U.S. jobs market blew past expectations in December to hit a record high of 7.3 million job openings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that job openings for November were revised up to 7.1 million, which means December was the fifth straight month with more than 7 million openings. Prior to 2018, the Bureau had never reported 7 million or more openings in a month.
Government openings were unchanged for the month. The private sector accounted for 6.7 million job vacancies, a record high.
The surge in openings was broad-based. Construction recorded 382,000 openings, a record high. Manufacturing had 428,0000, up from 374,000 a year ago.
The South was the strongest region, with 2.8 million openings. This was followed by the Midwest at 1.7 million, the West at 1.6, and the Northeast at 1.2
The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known as JOLTS. Its records go back to the turn of the century.
Economists had expected 6.9 million openings, around the level that was originally reported in November and a decline from earlier in 2018.