Job Openings Jumped 9.6% in June, Hirings Hit Second Highest Level Ever Recorded

A bartender wearing a facemask makes a drink at a restaurant in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2020. - Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas have spiked in recent weeks …
SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images

American businesses hired workers at a blistering pace in June, data from the Labor Department showed Monday.

U.S. employers hired 6.7 million workers in the month, the second-highest monthly total in records going back to 2000, according to the Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary or JOLTS report. The highest total was hit in May, when businesses hired 7.2 million workers.

Job openings rose 9.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 5.9 million, beating economist expectations. Despite the rise, openings remain well below the pre-pandemic level of about 7 million.

Job openings moved much higher during President Trump’s first year in office. Openings had stagnated in 2015, rarely rising about the 6 million mark and making little progress over time.  Between December of 2016 and July, openings rose by over 1 million and had not fallen below 7 million until December 2019.

Manufacturers hired 441,000 workers in June, down from 523,000 in May but above the year-ago level of 326,000. Durable goods makers hired 268,000 in the month, down a bit from 286,000 in May. Job openings rose to 336,000, up from May but below the pre-pandemic level.

Manufacturers laid off over 630,000 in each of March and April but layoffs and discharges fell to 121,000 in May, a pretty typical 1 percent discharge rate. Troublingly, layoffs rose again in June to 170,000, a 1.4 percent discharge rate, which is very high for this category.

Restaurants, bars, hotels and similar businesses hired 1.446 million workers, an increase from May’s 1.368. They posted 719,000 job openings, up from 521,000 in May but below the year ago level of 849,000.

These businesses let go over 4.2 million workers in March and 1.4 million in April. Layoffs and discharges fell to 183,000 in May but climbed again in June to 253,00, a bit above what would be considered historically normal.

Hiring slowed in construction from 679,000 in May to 498,000 in June. The smaller June figure, however, is still the second-highest since March of 2007. Openings rose to 315,000, slightly above the pre-pandemic level and close the 325,000 of June 2019.

The construction industry discharged 604,000 in March and 709,000 in April. Layoffs fell 177,000 in May and 182,000 in June, a historically normal level.

Retailers hired 922,000 workers, up from 886,000 in May and 787,000 a year ago. Openings held steady at 674,000, well below the year-ago level. Layoffs fell by  19,000 to 202,000. In March and April, 2.166 million retail workers were let go.

 

The number of people quitting their jobs rose 2.6 million, a 25 percent rise from May but below the year-ago level. That rise is extraordinary given that workers tend to want to hang onto their jobs during times of economic stress. The highest rate of quits was in accommodation and food services sector, which saw a 4.2 percent quit rate.

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