Job Openings Hit Record High for Fourth Straight Month

Young adult woman searching for a job online at home
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Despite more hires and fewer layoffs, the number of job openings reached a new record high for the fourth straight month in June as demand for workers continued to build.

There were 10.1 million job openings in the U.S. on the last business day of June—590,000 more than May and the most for any month since data was first collected in 2000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Monday. For the first time since the pandemic began, there were more job openings than unemployed people. The largest increases in available jobs were in professional and business services (227,000), retail (133,000) and accommodation and food services (121,000).

Workers have gained the upper hand as the economy reopens and employers need more people to meet the demand. Hiring likely will pick up more in the coming months, according to Ryan Sweet, a senior director and economist at Moody's Analytics, particularly as schools reopen, reducing the need for parents to stay home to care for children. That said, new worries about the delta variant of coronavirus could make some workers less willing to return to work, he warned.

Workers seem to realize their strong position and have adjusted their expectations accordingly. Respondents to a July survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, released Monday, continued to show increasing optimism, ramping up their annual earnings growth expectations to a new record high of 2.9% and reporting that if they lost their job, the chance they’d find one within three months is at a new pandemic-era high. Both sentiments were especially pronounced, the New York Fed noted, in people with no more than a high school diploma.

This wave of demand will eventually recede, but job seekers should ride it until then,” wrote Nick Bunker, North American economic research director at the Indeed Hiring Lab, in a commentary Monday.

The volume of layoffs, at 1.3 million, fell 43,000 to a new record low for the fourth consecutive month, while businesses hired 6.7 million people in June, an increase of 697,000. More people also quit their jobs in June, with the number of voluntary departures rising to 3.9 million from 3.63 million in May. In April, 3.99 million people quit their jobs, a record since the data began in 2000.

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