The number of job vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed by more than 2 million in July as companies struggled to fill a record number of jobs, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
The department’s job vacancy and labor turnover survey, which the Federal Reserve is closely monitoring for signs of employment shortages, showed 10.9 million vacancies. That was much higher than the FactSet estimate of 9.9 million and June total of 10.18 million.
That number exceeded the 8.7 million unemployed and job seekers in July. JOLTS data is a month behind regular non-farm payroll data, which saw growth of 1.05 million for July.
The number of new hires fell sharply in August and the number of employees rose by only 235,000, although the total number of unemployed fell to just under 8.4 million.
The vacancy rate, as measured by the total labor force, rose to 6.9% in July, compared with 6.5% in the previous month and 4.6% a year ago.
From an industry perspective, the rate rose from 10.2% in the critical leisure and hospitality sector to 10.7%, which suffered the most during the Covid-19 pandemic. The openings rose to 1.82 million, a total profit of 134,000 from June.
There was also a sharp increase in job vacancies in finance, with the rate rising from 3.8% to 5.8%, which corresponds to more than 200,000 new vacancies. State openings also increased significantly from 4.2% to 4.6%, which corresponds to an increase of almost 100,000.
At the regional level, the northeast rate rose from 6.2% to 7%. Although the south was hardest hit by new Covid cases, the south continued to have the highest job vacancies at 7.1%, an increase of 226,000 from June.
The hiring rate fell from 4.7% to 4.5% over the course of the month, while the termination rate, which is viewed as a barometer of employee confidence, remained unchanged at 2.7%. Layoffs and layoffs were increased to 1%.