The latest job openings and labor turnover survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that there were 6.493 million job openings in America in August (lagged release). That was a slight decline from July and 7.40 percent below the 2020 peak. More current data from the online jobs board Indeed suggests job postings may be even further from the pre-COVID level. It is not all bad news, though, because in several goods-producing sectors job postings are actually above year-ago levels, whereas the weakest arenas remain predominately in-person service businesses combating lingering occupancy restrictions and consumer reluctance. Another positive is the number of job seekers per vacancy which slid to 2.09 in August.
That is down sharply from nearly 5-to-1 in April albeit well above the 0.83 reading in February when the number of open positions easily outnumbered out of work Americans. The clear bright spot remains the ratio of quits to layoffs and discharges which has already recovered nearly all of its pandemic-related decline. This is due to a combination of employers (for now) laying off workers at a much slower rate and more Americans feeling emboldened enough by stronger household balance sheets to seek out better job opportunities, such as those that offer paid time off or an ability to telecommute that could be highly desirable during another viral outbreak (lockdown) in the future. With respect to the remote work boom, separate Indeed data revealed an interesting and perhaps surprising side-effect in that job postings have rebounded much slower in metros where more of the jobs can be done from home. The weakness appears concentrated in the retail, restaurant, and personal-services sectors since the demand for such work has declined as fewer people need to commute daily.
Sources: Econoday, U.S. DoL, Indeed, FRBSL