US job openings unexpectedly increased in June and hiring maintained a solid pace as state economies continued with reopening efforts.
The number of available positions climbed to 5.89mn during the month from a revised 5.37mn in May, according to the Labour Department’s Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, released yesterday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 5.3mn openings. Openings that involve workers recalled from layoffs or positions that are only offered internally are not counted in the figure.
Hiring eased to 6.7mn in June from a record 7.2mn a month earlier. While hires edged down, they were still the second-largest on record. The number of hires, which does include rehired employees, decreased 503,000mn. The hires rate decreased to 4.9% from an unprecedented 5.4%.
Separations, which include layoffs and quits, increased by 522,000 in June, reflecting a jump in the number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs. The number of quits advanced to 2.6mn in June from 2.1mn, with the rate climbing to 1.9%, the highest since February. The rate of layoffs and discharges held at 1.4% in June, near a pre-pandemic rate of 1.2%. Even so, the quits rate remains well below where it was at the start of the year, when the jobs market was at its best in decades, illustrating lingering slack in the job market.
Competition among those looking for work remains elevated with nearly 18mn Americans were jobless during the month, leaving three unemployed workers vying for every job opening. That stands in stark contrast to a two-year trend in which job vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed.
The increase in job openings, which occurred in all US regions, reflected a 198,000 gain in vacancies within accommodation and food services. Openings also rose 71,000 in the health care and social assistance industry. Vacancies declined in construction and state and local government education.
Employers continued to add to payrolls at a steady pace in July, according to the agency’s latest monthly jobs data issued Friday. Yet further outsize job gains could be in question as companies are well along in their efforts of getting headcounts in line with demand.
The JOLTS data lag behind the monthly employment report by a month, but it offers a level of detail not available in the jobs report. However, the two are not directly comparable across all categories. For employment, the reference period is the pay period that includes the 12th of the month — the same as the payroll survey in the jobs report — but for job openings it’s the last business day of the month and for hires and separations, it’s the entire calendar month.
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