7.1 Million Job Openings and Not Anywhere Near Enough Workers to Fill Them

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It has not gone without notice that hiring and payrolls have continued to rise month after month. Now we have yet one more reading showing just how strong the current job market is. There were roughly 7.1 million job openings in America on the last day of August, an all-time high!

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, which comes with a one-month lag. The agency also reported that hires and separations were little changed at 5.8 million and 5.7 million, respectively.

Within those separations, the quits rate was steady at 2.4%. That’s 3.6 million people quitting their existing job to move on to another opportunity. Also in the separations, the layoffs and discharges rate was steady at 1.2%. The number of layoffs and discharges rose by 176,000 to 1.8 million in August, and the agency showed that the layoffs and discharges rate was 1.2%.

Within the hires, the August report reached a series high of 5.8 million, and the hires rate was 3.9%.

What matters here is what the jobs picture looks like on a longer-term basis. Despite this report having a one-month lag, the annual gains are often how economists and policymakers will judge the overall trends in the economy (barring any major swings). Over the 12 months ending in August, the hires totaled 67.0 million from some 64.7 million separations. This yielded a net employment gain of 2.4 million, including workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

When 24/7 Wall St. covered the September unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is one month more current than this JOLTS report, the unemployment rate fell to 3.7% in September from 3.9% in August. This was the lowest since December of 1969.

And to fill those 7.1 million job openings, we then have to look at the number of unemployed people and those who might return to the labor force. The agency showed that the number of unemployed persons decreased by 270,000 in September to 6.0 million. The number of long-term unemployed accounted for 22.9% of all unemployed people and were roughly 1.4 million people in September.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, who would prefer full-time work, increased by 263,000 to 4.6 million in September. In September, 1.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force. Also in September, the labor force participation rate remained at 62.7%, and the employment/population ratio was 60.4%.

So, 7.1 million job openings, versus 6 million people who are unemployed. That’s a solid job market.

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