By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business
It’s a hallmark of this bizarre pandemic job market: America had a record 10.1 million jobs available in June, as companies struggled to hire enough staff to support the full reopening of the economy.
This mismatch between demand and supply of workers has been a defining feature of the pandemic recovery.
Hiring is rampant across industries as companies continue to rebuild capacity lost in last year’s lockdowns. Professional and business services, retail, hotels and restaurants added the most job listings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report released on Monday.
But many unemployed people face difficulties. Some continue to struggle to find daycare, while others worry about the risk of contracting the virus at work.
“If we are to sustain our economic recovery, we must take seriously removing barriers to fill these vacancies,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and policy director of the US Chamber of Commerce.
Specifically, added Bradley, “it includes meeting child care needs, streamlining unemployment programs, job training and increasing legal immigration.”
Economists expect at least the child care aspect to be addressed when schools reopen in person after the summer. But the rampant spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant adds a risk of exposure. Meanwhile, generous pandemic-era unemployment benefits that have already ceased in several states will run out in September, which could also affect the hiring rate.
Hires, layoffs and voluntary departures
In June, the number of hires rose to 6.7 million, in particular thanks to the increase in activity in commerce and education.
The layoff rate remained unchanged at 0.9%, the lowest level on record and stable since May, while the voluntary departure rate rose to 2.7%.
The rise in the quit rate is likely due “in part to increased opportunities for workers to find better jobs, potentially with higher wages or safer working conditions in the lingering pandemic,” said Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, in a Tweeter.
The dynamic job vacancies report is further evidence that the recovery in employment in the United States has accelerated over the summer months. Between June and July, the country created nearly 1.9 million jobs.
Unemployment rate fell to 5.4% in July and economists are increasingly optimistic it will reach pre-pandemic levels next year: Goldman Sachs predicts 3.5% unemployment by the end of 2022.
However, the overall unemployment rate is only a measure of the labor market. Participation rates are still falling, and although unemployment fell across most demographic groups in July, it remains higher for black, Hispanic and Asian workers.
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