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Upside of this tight job market: Pressure to boost your pay

Employees build components for hybrid electric vehicle motors at the Toshiba International manufacturing facility in Houston, Texas.
Matthew Busch | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Employees build components for hybrid electric vehicle motors at the Toshiba International manufacturing facility in Houston, Texas.

The pace of U.S. job creation has been slowing, which is making it harder for people looking for a job.

But it's good news if you already have one. Why? It may be time to ask your boss for a raise.

With more than half a million unfilled jobs, and potential job candidates in a better bargaining positions, wages have begun to move higher. especially for workers in industries with the highest rate of unfilled jobs. The pace of wage growth has picked up as the gap between job openings and new hires has widened.

Jobs data out Friday will help investors and economists get a better read on recent weakness in the government's monthly status report on the job market. Last month, they were stunned by numbers showing the hiring all but ground nearly to a halt in May.

Only 38,000 net new jobs were created, much less than the nearly 160,000 that economists had forecast. It was weakest showing since September 2010. The Labor Department also cut its estimates for April and March to show that 59,000 fewer jobs were added in those two months.

With the jobless rate now hovering around 5 percent — roughly half the level in the depths of the Great Recession, some economist say the slowdown shouldn't be too surprising. That jobless rate is close to the level known as "full employment" - when almost anyone who can work and wants a job can find one.

There's additional evidence of a tight job market — where the demand for able workers is overtaking supply — in a separate monthly report from the Labor Department known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

The report shows that the number of new job openings each month has recently begun to exceed the number of newly-hired workers. Its also showing a steady rise in the number of people who leave a job because they decide to quit on their own, rather than getting laid off or leaving for other reasons.

A rise in the "quit rate" is usually seen as evidence that workers are confident enough in their job prospects to leave voluntarily. And when they do, it's often for a better job with a higher wage.

Even as hiring seems to be slowing, so is the pace of layoffs. One measure is the number of new people who sign up each week for unemployment benefits.

After falling steadily since the end of the Great Recession, those claims have fallen to the lowest level since 2000. When adjusted for the size of the labor force, initial claims are at the lowest level on record.

A separate report, from the recruitment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, found that layoffs in June were down almost 15 percent from last June.

Workers in the greatest demand are necessarily those in highly-skilled industries, though. Job openings represent rough 5 percent of total employment for the leisure and hospitality sector. But they make up just 1.4 percent of open positions for state and local teachers and school administrators.


By CNBC's John Schoen. Follow him on Twitter @johnwschoen or email him.