Job Openings Reach Record High, Now Exceed Number of Employment Seekers

Portrait of a young woman holding a "hiring" sign in her store.
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The number of job openings across the U.S. reached new highs in June, surpassing the number of unemployed Americans looking for work. Unfilled job openings increased by 590,000 to a seasonally adjusted 10.1 million in June, driven by industries such as professional and business services, retail and the accommodation and food services, the Labor Department said Monday and as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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This is the highest level since record-keeping began in 2000, an indication of a tight labor market.

As of June, there were 9.5 million Americans looking for work. The Journal noted that according to economists, the gap between job openings and unemployment might be due to skills or geographic disparity between workers and available jobs.

“We have fewer people in the labor market now than we did before Covid,” Julia Pollak, a labor economist at job-search site ZipRecruiter, told the Journal.

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Meanwhile, multiple rounds of federal economic stimulus and benefits mean “businesses have surged back far more quickly than job seekers,” she added.

To entice workers, employers have raised wages and have even offered retention and hiring bonuses, Pollak explained, and a lack of available workers has also created opportunities for young workers due to reduced requirements for new hires.

To make matters worse, the U.S. government is at risk of wasting about 100,000 employment-based green cards this year due to application backlogs related to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a separate report by the Wall Street Journal. Any green cards that aren’t issued by the end of September will expire, which may widen the gap between job openings and unemployment even further.

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However, there are signs that businesses were able to fill more job openings over the summer. According to the Labor Department, employers added 943,000 jobs to payrolls in July, the Journal reported, the best increase in 11 months.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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