Employers posted a record number of job openings in June and layoffs hit a record low, marking another milestone in the economy's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Employers posted 10.1 million openings in June, the U.S. Labor Department said Monday — up from 9.5 million open jobs in May, and the highest level recorded in the two decades it has tracked the data. The number of hires in June also rose to 6.7 million, up from 6 million in May. Layoffs and firings (which the Labor Department calls "discharges") stood at a 20-year low of 1.3 million, slightly below their May level.
Also significant: The number of job openings that month also rose above the number of people who are unemployed and looking for work, by half a million.
However, that most frequently used unemployment figure leaves out millions of people who are jobless but not actively job-searching. According to Heidi Shierholz, policy director at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, the true count of the unemployed in July was over 13 million.
Meanwhile, the rate of workers quitting ticked up to 2.7%, near the record set in April. High quit rates signal that workers are able to get new jobs, or believe they can, and are another indicator of economic strength.
"This is the third straight month of record-breaking job openings. The quits rate is also close to its all-time high, which was set just two months ago in April. This wave of demand will eventually recede, but job seekers should ride it until then," Nick Bunker, research director at the Indeed Hiring Lab, said in an email.
"Job seekers, both jobless and employed, are taking advantage of this situation with job switching near historic levels and nominal wages growing quickly," Bunker added.
A separate survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Monday showed that workers' confidence in being able to find a new job hit its highest level since February 2020.
The U.S. economy has rebounded with unexpected strength as the rollout of vaccines allows businesses to reopen or expand hours and encourages cooped-up Americans to get out again and visit restaurants, bars and shops. In July, employers added 943,000 jobs, according to a— the largest increase in payrolls since August 2020.
Still, the fast-spreading Delta variant has cast a shadow over the outlook. Daily cases are averaging more than 100,000, up from fewer than 12,000 in late June but down from around 250,000 in early January.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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