(Adds details from report, background)
WASHINGTON, Aug 9 (Reuters) – U.S. job openings jumped to a fresh record high in June and hiring also increased, an indication that the supply constraints that have held back the labor market remain elevated even as the pace of the economic recovery gathers momentum.
Job openings, a measure of labor demand, shot up by 590,000 to 10.1 million on the last day of June, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, on Monday.
Hiring also rose to 6.7 million in June from 6.0 million in the prior month. The government reported on Friday that job growth accelerated in July as U.S. employers hired the most workers in nearly a year and continued to raise wages.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast job openings would rise to 9.28 million in June. Vacancies increased in all four regions and the job openings rate rose to 6.5% from 6.1%.
The high number of job openings has been fueled by the speed from which the economy has emerged from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended many businesses as restrictions and fears of the virus kept people home.
But the number of people re-entering the workforce has lagged job openings. Generous unemployment benefits, childcare issues and lingering worries about the virus may all have played a part, with economists generally expecting a bump in hiring as schools reopen and crisis-era unemployment benefits come to an end.
The largest increases in vacancies in June were in professional and business services, retail trade and accommodation and food services.
The rise in hiring was led by retail trade, with 291,000 more positions filled, while state and local government education filled 94,000 jobs.
Worries remain, however, that a resurgence in infections, driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, could once again discourage some unemployed people from returning to the labor force.
The report also showed the number of people voluntarily leaving their employment in June increased to 3.9 million from 3.6 million in May. The quits rate is usually seen as a barometer of job market confidence. The number of people quitting their jobs is well above pre-pandemic levels.
(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Paul Simao)
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