US Job Openings Outnumber Unemployed Workers as Businesses Struggle to Fill Vacant Positions

Job openings across the US soared to a new record in July, as an increasing number of companies face labour shortages amid unprecedented demand for goods and services.

According to the latest results of the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), there were a total of 10.9 million job openings in July, up from a revised 10.2 million in the month prior, and significantly outpacing the 10 million forecast by economists polled by Bloomberg. The latest jaw-dropping figure comes as there were over 4.2 million new positions added over the course of the past seven months, with each month in 2021 posting some form of increase— marking the longest such streak on record.

Diving into the details, new vacancies were prominent across a number of industries, with the largest gains concentrated across health care and social assistance, finance and insurance, and accommodation and food services. The historically high number of job openings also marks a significant divergence against the myriad of Americans that still remain on some form of government unemployment benefits— which as of last week, stood at more than 12 million.

After furloughing millions of employees last year during the height of Covid-19 related restrictions, the sharp rebound in economic activity since the beginning of 2021 has left countless businesses struggling to refill vacant positions. Despite offering various incentives such as bonuses and higher wages, there were still a record 2.2 million more job openings than the 8.4 million unemployed Americans as of August.

Similarly, the number of vacancies was also 4.3 million higher than the number of hires in July, marking the highest on records dating back to 2000. The number of Americans that voluntarily left their positions jumped by 103,000 to 4 million— the second highest on record, while the quits rate remained unchanged at 2.7%.

The latest JOLTS data provides further affirmation that inflation will likely be anything but transitory, especially as the increased demand for labour will lead to even more wage hikes. But, with all pandemic-related emergency unemployment benefits slated for phase-out this week, millions of Americans will be forced back into the labour market, which in turn, will hopefully lead to a sharp decline in job openings over the coming months.

Information for this briefing was found via the BLS. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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