The job market throughout the United States is on fire, soaring to nearly a million job openings in April, which set a record for the highest overall number recorded in a single month since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking this data in 2000 at 9.3 million new positions.
The demand for workers is higher than ever as companies continue to brace themselves for a busy summer. Despite the uptick in new job openings, however, many workers don’t exactly seem ready to come back to the workforce. Although job openings have risen, American employers hired just 6.1 million people in April and May- a slight rise from March but left millions of jobs unfilled.
The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics adds to evidence that the jobs reports in the past couple months has partially reflected current labor supply constraints. There are many critics of the high unemployment benefits and aid given due to the pandemic and that it has been keeping people at home and removing their incentive to find employment, but prospective employees have also been balancing health risks and childcare responsibilities in many cases, as many schools never fully reopened across the country and summer break has quickly descended upon us. Companies throughout the country are now raising their minimum salaries and creating new incentives to attract workers, however.
The rate at which workers quit their jobs, a sign of confidence in the job market, also rose to a record high in April, and the rate at which workers were laid off fell to a record low, the report from the BLS stated. Some employers who have found workers are now reporting serious problems in keeping them — quits rates have risen to 2.7% in the month or 4 million. This increase was mostly carried due to the significant increase in quits rates in the retail industry, as well as professional and business services. The layoffs rate simultaneously fell to a low of 1%, according to the report.
While demand for labor is rising significantly in the service sector, it is starting to slow down in other sectors. Employers in the food services industry added the most open positions at nearly 350,000 as restaurants return to full, normal services and mask mandates have slowly been lifted, whereas job openings in educational services, mining, logging, and construction have started to decline sharply.
Some of those sectors were among the first to bounce back and return to pre-pandemic levels of operations and job openings last year. The jobs report data also indicated that openings for retail jobs nearly held steady last month after strong gains earlier in the year. These trends suggest that the broad resurgence in demand for labor is reaching a limit in some of the initial sectors where demand returned once the pandemic slowed down.
The labor market is on the right track, but there are still millions of workers yet to be included in the economic recovery. The nation’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in the month of May. That compares to 3.5 percent unemployment in February 2020 — right before the coronavirus pandemic struck — when some 5.7 million workers were without jobs.
Brookfield Brief is a weekly newsletter covering the most relevant stories in business, finance, and tech news.
Like our stuff? Give us a clap and Subscribe here for free. Every Monday direct to your inbox.