July Job Openings Overwhelm Pool of Available Workers

In the first of four major employment reports this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported job openings rose to 11.2 million as of the end of July, more than double the pool of available workers.

The report said job openings rose to 11.2 million at the end of July; the rate rose to 6.9 percent. Job openings increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+81,000); arts, entertainment, and recreation (+53,000); federal government (+47,000); and state and local government education (+42,000). Job openings decreased in durable goods manufacturing (-47,000).

Courtesy U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employers made little progress trying to keep up; the report said the number of hires in July was little changed at 6.4 million and the rate was unchanged at 4.2 percent. Hires were little changed in all industries.

Meanwhile, evidence of the “Great Resignation” persisted, with total separations—including quits, layoffs and discharges and other separations—rising to 5.9 million, a 3.9 percent. The number and rate of quits were little changed at 4.2 million and 2.7 percent, respectively. Layoffs and discharges were little changed at 1.4 million and the rate was unchanged at 0.9 percent.

“The July JOLTS report shows that the labor market is barely tip-toeing back toward a balanced state that will help relieve current inflation pressures,” said Sarah House, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo Economics, Charlotte, N.C. “A lower level of quits suggest the labor market is entering a more settled stage from the turmoil brought by the pandemic, but voluntary departures remain well-above prior cycle highs and layoffs illustrate businesses continue to hold on tightly to workers.”

The parade of employment reports continues on Thursday when the Labor Department releases its weekly Initial Claims for unemployment insurance report (8:30 a.m. ET) and the ADP Research Institute, Roseland, N.J., issues its revamped National Employment Report (8:30 a.m. ET).

On Friday, BLS issues its monthly Employment Situation report (8:30 a.m. ET) on August employment numbers. MBA NewsLink will cover the report in its Tuesday, Sept. 6 edition (no issue on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5), with commentary and analysis from MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni.