Whether or not you are a fan of the economic policies of today, one trend that has prevailed is that there are a record number of job openings. Millions and millions of job openings. Many jobs are not even able to be filled.
Last week’s U.S. Department of Labor report on the employment situation showed a mixed bag for the month of August. It was still strong, but revisions made the numbers more mixed on a larger scale. Tuesday’s economic release from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or what we call the JOLTS report, for the month of July. It turns out that there were 6.17 million job openings at the end of July, and the June number of 6.16 million was revised to 6.116 million.
Hirings were up 1.3% to 5.501 million. The translation here is that employers are having a hard time matching job applicants with the skills required for the job (skill gap), and there may always be an issue that some workers who could fill the open position either have better jobs already or perhaps the employer is not offering enough pay to fill the position. Then there are other issues, such as having to care for others, or an opening in one region not being possible for a worker in another geographic area.
For there to be a good job market there have to be separations, and specifically there have to be workers willing to quit their job to pursue the same opportunity or a better opportunity elsewhere. The separations rate was 3.6% in July. Of this, the quits rate was 2.2% and the layoffs rate was 1.2%.
As far as net changes in employment, the BLS report said:
Over the 12 months ending in July, hires totaled 63.6 million and separations totaled 61.5 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.1 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.
Job openings increased in a number of industries with the largest increases and decreases seen as follows:
- other services (+111,000);
- transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+70,000);
- educational services (+26,000);
- health care and social assistance (−72,000);
- state and local government ex-education (−46,000);
- and federal government (−21,000).