US job openings soar to 10M for first time as companies struggle to hire

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US job openings swelled to a record-high 10.1 million in June as companies continued to struggle to attract new employees amid an ongoing shortage of workers, the feds said Monday.

Openings reached 10.1 million by the end of June, up more than 6 percent from an upwardly revised 9.5 million in May, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Monday.

It’s the highest number of job openings ever recorded in the JOLTS data and the first time openings have shot past 10 million.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected to see 9.1 million openings for the month as they thought the labor market would round the corner of its choppy recovery in the month. 

By sector, professional and business services saw the biggest rise of 227,000 new openings posted in June while retail trade saw 133,000 new jobs posted. Accommodation and food services added 121,000 new postings in June.

The number of people who quit their jobs increased to 3.9 million in the month and the quits rate increased to 2.7 percent, according to Monday’s data, while the layoffs and discharges rate was little changed.

That, along with data from last week’s jobs report that showed rising average wages, indicate an environment where workers have increasingly more options and bargaining power.

The labor market was thrown into turmoil this spring when demand for goods and services roared back from the depths of the pandemic and many companies found themselves understaffed to accommodate the surge in demand.

And as companies sought to hire, they had to compete for workers, many of whom appeared uninterested in taking the work that was available, largely retail, leisure and hospitality jobs.

Leisure and hospitality had one of the highest levels of job openings in June at more than 1.65 million, Monday’s data shows. Only trade and transportation, professional and business services and education and health care had more openings as of June, according to the data.

Monday’s JOLTS data show that the market for workers had not gotten much better by June, though last week’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that hiring accelerated in July.

Next month’s JOLTS report will show whether the acceleration in hiring outpaced the potential listing of more job openings in July.

Last week’s jobs report said there were about 9.5 million Americans looking for work in June, which means there were more job openings than there were people looking for work in that month.

In July, the number of Americans looking for work fell to 8.7 million.

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