Labor shortage leads to record US job openings

Job vacancies in the United States hit a new record in July, illustrating persistent staff shortages that make it difficult for companies to keep up with demand.

The number of open positions rose to 10.9 million in the month, from 10.2 million revised upwards in June, the vacancies and workforce turnover survey showed on Wednesday. work of the Ministry of Labor, or JOLTS. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for openings to remain little changed at 10 million.

After laying off millions of payroll workers last year, the rapid recovery in economic activity has left many companies short of staff. “Help Wanted” signs can be seen in business windows across the United States, and many restaurants have limited their hours of operation.

Employers have offered incentives to attract candidates – like higher wages and one-time bonuses – but the pool of available workers remains constrained by factors related to the pandemic.

Going forward, hiring constraints are expected to ease as fears about the virus ease and schools reopen for in-person learning. However, the surge in infections linked to the delta variant and its impact on schools and Americans’ general sense of safety in the workplace could delay a significant improvement in job recruitment.

The number of job vacancies topped hires by 4.3 million in July, the highest since data dates back to 2000. The number of people who voluntarily left their jobs rose to 4 million in the month, and the quit rate remained unchanged at a near record 2.7%. .

The largest increases in openings were recorded in health care and social assistance; finance and insurance; and accommodation and food services.

Total hires fell to 6.7 million in July, especially in sectors such as retail trade and manufacturing. The hiring rate fell to 4.5%. Layoffs and layoffs increased slightly.

JOLTS figures follow monthly government employment data. That report, released last week, showed payrolls only increased by 235,000 in August – after all economists’ estimates – as the spread of the delta variant coupled with ongoing hiring challenges weighed on the economy. job growth.

Separate figures last week showed half of small business owners said they had vacancies they couldn’t fill in August, a record in the National Federation of Independent Businesses survey. Meanwhile, the share of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” in the Conference Board survey last month hovered near a two-decade high.

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