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Job openings pass 7 million for the first time

Job openings pass 7 million for the first time
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U.S. employers had over seven million unfilled jobs on the last business day in August for the first time on record, according to numbers the Labor Department released Tuesday.

In total, there were a seasonally adjusted 7.136 million jobs openings as of Aug. 31, the Labor Department said.

The open jobs outnumbered unemployed Americans actively searching for work by 902,000 in August, which is the largest difference recorded. 

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The president highlighted the figures in a tweet on Tuesday.

"Incredible number just out, 7,036,000 job openings," he wrote. "Astonishing - it’s all working!"

However, some economists warn that the gap between available jobs and the labor supply may threaten the U.S. growth.

"An increasing labor shortage may soon be one of the biggest risks to the economy’s continued expansion,” economist at MUFG Union Banks Chris Rupkey told the Wall Street Journal.

“Companies need more workers than the economy has to give and this is going to lead to a slowdown in economic growth somewhere down the road.”

The Journal reports that the unprecedented numbers are partially reflective of America's remarkably low labor-force participation. 

Only 81.8 percent of adults in their main work years (25-54 years old) were actively searching for work or employed in September, according to the Labor Department, which is markedly below the peak rate in January 1999 of 84.6 percent.

The Journal reports that at least two million more people would be seeking jobs were labor-force participation numbers as high as they were then.

However, as companies compete over a smaller pool of applicants, wages are likely to rise in many sectors, drawing more people into the labor market.