The numbers: The amount of job openings rose to a record 10.9 million in July from a revised 10.2 million in the prior month, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That’s the fifth straight all-time monthly high.
Economists surveyed by Wall Street economists expected job openings to remain near 10.1 million in July.
Economists noted that the data is released with a one-month lag and doesn’t include the COVID-19 delta variant’s impact on the economy.
What happened: For the first time in history, there were less than 0.8 unemployed per job opening in July.
Not all sectors were impacted equally. Openings fell in construction, trade, transportation and utilities.
Total hiring slipped for the first time this year. Job hires fell by 160,000 to 6.7 million, with hiring in the retail sector down sharply.
Separations rose 174,000 to 5.8 million. This includes those fired and those who left the job voluntarily, but excludes retirements and location transfers.
The private-sector quits rate rose to 3.1% from 3%, suggesting workers are confident they can find better opportunities.
Big picture: The data don’t confirm the sort of weakness suggested by last Friday’s job report, when the government reported that the economy added 235,000 net new jobs in August, well below forecasts. Economists blamed the delta variant for the disappointing job growth. On the other hand, the unemployment rate fell to 5.2% from 5.4%.
What are they saying: “Given red-hot labor demand and rising wage growth, the jobs recovery seems unlikely to go into reverse. We expect the pace of hiring will reaccelerate modestly this fall as the delta coronavirus wave recedes and labor constraints start to ease,” said Lydia Boussour, economist at Oxford Economics.
Market reaction: Stocks
were lower in midday trading on Wednesday as St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the Fed would taper its bond buying this year even in light of the weaker-than-expected September jobs report.