The US economy keeps setting new records for job openings

Hiring sign labor market coronavirus
People walk by a Help Wanted sign in the Queens borough of New York City on June 04, 2021 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • US job openings rose to 10.1 million from 9.5 million in June, a fourth straight record high.
  • Economists expected openings to climb slightly to 9.28 million. The print marks a sixth straight increase.
  • For the first time since the pandemic began, the number of available workers exceeded job postings.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Job openings in the US reached yet another record high in June, underscoring the struggle among businesses to rehire amid a collection of headwinds.

Openings rose to 10.1 million from 9.5 million in June, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Monday. That compares to a median estimate of 9.28 openings from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The print marks a sixth consecutive month of higher job openings and four consecutive record highs in openings. It also reflects a sizeable pick-up in openings after they were largely flat from April to May.


The print sheds more light on July's stellar jobs report. The US economy added 938,000 nonfarm payrolls in June, trouncing forecasts and reflecting a sharp acceleration in the labor market's recovery. The encouraging data didn't end there; job creation was even stronger in July and the unemployment rate fell more than expected to 5.4%.

The available-worker-to-opening ratio fell to 0.9, marking the first reading below 1 since the pandemic began. The threshold signals a greater demand for workers than jobs as the labor shortage lingers in parts of the economy.

Who's hiring and who's quitting

While the JOLTS report lags the government's payrolls data by a full month, it offers key detail around where the labor market's rebound is accelerating and where it might be hitting snags.

The professional and business services sector added the most openings with an increase of 227,000, according to the report. The retail sector followed by adding 133,000 job openings in June, and restaurants and bars added 121,000 openings as the country further reopened. Broadly, the rate of job openings rose to 6.5% from 6.1%.

Quits rose to 3.9 million from 3.6 million, bringing the figure within spitting distance of its April record. Quitting was most common in the retail, restaurant, and accommodation sectors, supporting businesses' anecdotes about unsuccessful hiring efforts. The increase in quits suggests workers are confident of finding jobs elsewhere and are possibly exploring new sectors as the post-pandemic economy takes form.

The sectors facing elevated quits levels have also been those raising wages the most through the summer. For example, wages in the leisure and hospitality sector surged the most in two decades through the first quarter as businesses struggled to hire and retain workers. Other services sectors hit hard by the pandemic have also raised pay as they rushed to rehire.