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Job Openings Surge to Record High, Even As Hiring Also Increases

According to the Labor Department, job openings throughout the United States surged to a record high in June, even though hirings also ended up increasing for the whole month. The Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey was recently released, giving economists the first accurate and official numbers and data for June. The ratio of job openings to hirings for the month reveals that while hirings have increased in June when compared to previous months, the increase in job openings signals that problems and restraints are still holding the labor market back.

According to the JOLTS report, job openings surged by about 590,000 (to a total of 10.1 million) on the last day of the month. Hirings in June, meanwhile, rose to about 6.7 million — up from the 6.0 million recorded in May. This has resulted in the second-largest increase in hirings on a month-to-month basis since 2000. 

While these numbers seem to be good for the labor market as a whole, many economists forecasted slightly different numbers. For example, analysts didn’t think job openings would rise to more than 9.28 million in June. The actual data — 10.1 million openings — far surpass this forecast. Job openings ended up increasing in June in all four regions.

Job growth, as a whole, does appear as if it’s moving in more positive directions. In July, government data reveals that the most workers were hired in about a year. As we move into fall and more children and students return to school, many analysts forecast that hirings will again pick up. Lack of childcare has been a major reason why many Americans haven’t returned to the workforce. Therefore, the next few months could see an increase in hirings.

However, there is other interesting data that has been released in this latest Labor Department report. The number of people leaving their jobs voluntarily increased in June to 3.9 million. In May, this number was at 3.6 million. Both numbers are above pre-pandemic levels. People could be leaving their jobs for a variety of reasons, though retirements and career changes have greatly increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the quits rate has also increased in almost all of the private industry sectors. The quits rate helps to determine job market confidence. Therefore, as the quits rates rose in June, this could signal that workers are still not confident or satisfied with working in pandemic times.

While more than half of Americans are now fully vaccinated, COVID-19 related concerns are still keeping many from returning to work. The Delta variant of the virus has also caused some issues when it comes to the return of mandatory masks for workers, as well as business concerns. However, most economists believe that the economy will not shut down as it did in 2020. Analysts are still keeping an eye on how this new virus variant may affect business and labor market activity, though new data analyzing activity in July doesn’t seem to suggest that the virus has yet to really impact the economy.

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