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U.S. Posts Record 10.9 Million Job Openings After Nearly 11 Million Americans Lose Federal Unemployment Benefits

Topline

Following a record showing in June, the number of job openings in the U.S. reached another record high in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, signaling demand for workers is still strong even as the economy struggles to add back jobs during the pandemic—a worrisome sign for the labor market’s already sluggish recovery.

Key Facts

There were 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July compared to a record-setting 10.1 million at the end of June, according to the Labor Department’s job openings and labor turnover report released on Wednesday.

Job openings were highest in industries including healthcare (up 294,000), finance and insurance (up 116,000) and food services and accomodation (up 115,000).

Meanwhile, hires and total separations were little changed month to month about at 6.7 million and 5.8 million, respectively.

Roughly 4 million workers, or 2.7%, quit their jobs in July, virtually unchanged from June, while the rate of firings also stayed consistent at about 1%.

Tangent

On Wednesday, Jim Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, told the Financial Times the high number of job openings suggests the labor market could post a strong recovery despite its recent slowdown. “The jobs are there, it’s that the workers may not want to take those jobs right now,” Bullard said, adding that “households are flush with income” as a result of stimulus checks and historically high savings rates while pointing out the end to pandemic-era unemployment benefits should encourage people to get jobs. “If we can get the workers matched up, it certainly looks like we’ll have a very strong labor market going into next year.”

Key Background

The labor market posted its worst monthly showing since January last month, adding back only 235,000 jobs despite forecasts calling for nearly 1 million additions, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. “The delta variant of Covid-19 appears to have dented the job market recovery,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement last week, echoing other experts concerned the pandemic’s resurgence has started to curtail the economic recovery. There are still 8.4 million unemployed people in the United States, markedly higher than 4 million in February 2020. 

Surprising Fact

According to Bank of America, an estimated 7.5 million Americans stopped receiving jobless benefits entirely as a result of the federal government’s pandemic-era unemployment relief expiring on Monday, while another 3 million people saw their unemployment checks cut by $300 a week—marking the largest cutoff of U.S. unemployment benefits in history.

Further Reading

US Added 235,000 Jobs In August—Revealing ‘Major’ Labor Market Slowdown As Delta Variant Threatens Economic Recovery (Forbes)

Delta Variant Has ‘Dented’ Job Market: Private Sector Added Disappointingly Low 374,000 Jobs In August (Forbes)

A Record-Setting, Over 10 Million New Jobs Are Now Available (Forbes)

‘Stocks Love Stimulus’: Nasdaq Posts New Record High As ‘Worrisome’ Jobs Report Boosts Relief Prospects (Forbes)

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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