US job openings increased to a record high in March as worker shortages persisted, suggesting that employers could continue to raise wages and help keep inflation uncomfortably high.
The Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, on Tuesday also showed a record 4.5 million people voluntarily quit their jobs, underscoring the growing wage pressures.
The government reported last week that compensation for American workers notched its largest increase in more than three decades in the first quarter.
"For the economy, this points to another strong jobs report on Friday, and for workers, this means continued strong wage increases, especially for those who change jobs," said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Virginia.
"The situation likely will continue well into this year given the Federal Reserve's efforts to cool the labor market probably won't gain traction for months."
Job openings, a measure of labor demand, rose by 205,000 to 11.5 million on the last day of March.
The second straight monthly increase lifted job openings to the highest level since the series started in 2000.
The retail sector led the rise, with an additional 155,000 unfilled jobs.
Manufacturers of long-lasting goods reported 50,000 more vacancies.
But job openings decreased by 69,000 in the transportation, warehousing and utilities industry.
State and local government education had 43,000 fewer vacancies, while job openings in the federal government decreased by 20,000.
Job openings increased in the South but fell in the Northeast, Midwest and West.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 11 million vacancies.