Job openings surge above 10 million for first time ever, Labor Division says

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The number of job vacancies in the U.S. economy surged to more than 10 million in June, the highest on record as the U.S. labor market continues to recover after last year’s economic shutdown, the Department of Labor said on Monday.

There were 10.1 million vacancies on the last day of June, the report said, up from 9.2 million in May. The economist polled by Dow Jones expected 9.1 million openings. The jump came as the layoff rate rose while the layoff and layoff rates remained unchanged, reflecting increased bargaining power and employment options for workers.

By industry, leisure and hospitality have one of the highest levels with over 1.6 million job vacancies. The health and social services sector has 1.5 million vacancies.

An ‘We’re hiring!’ The sign will be displayed at a Starbucks in Los Angeles, California on August 6, 2021.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

“The demand for labor is growing steadily. This is the third straight month of record-breaking job openings,” Nick Bunker, director of research at Indeed Hiring Lab, said in a note. “The churn rate is also close to its all-time high, which was only set two months ago in April. This wave of demand will eventually decline, but job seekers should ride it until then.”

Although the unemployment rate remains above 5% and the US economy, with millions of jobs, has not reached pre-pandemic levels, many companies are reporting difficulty finding workers. Nominal wage increases, particularly among non-managerial employees, also indicate a tight labor market.

The job vacancy survey was conducted ahead of the July job report published last week, which showed the economy created 954,000 jobs. After some disappointing results earlier in the year, hiring accelerated in the summer.

The Department of Labor said in Friday’s employment report that 8.7 million Americans were looking for work, meaning there were more vacancies than potential workers. Certainly, an improving economy and tight labor markets can pull workers out of sideline and back into work.

The high level of job vacancies comes even though some states have stopped the additional unemployment benefits created during the pandemic to encourage Americans to return to work. The additional benefits are due to expire next month for the rest of the country.

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