A Worker’s Market: U.S. Job Openings Hit All-Time High

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On the latest edition of Market Week in Review, Senior Portfolio Manager Megan Roach and Julie Zhang, head of North America sales enablement and analytics, discussed the latest data on U.S. jobs and wages, recent central bank actions, and the state of the global economic recovery.

U.S. job openings soar, wages climb

Recently released data on U.S. job openings and wage growth indicates that 2021 has become a worker’s market, Roach said, with employees enjoying high levels of negotiating power and plenty of jobs to choose from. As evidence, she pointed to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Labor Department, which showed that there were 10.9 million open jobs during the month of July.

“This marked the fifth straight month with record-high job availability in the U.S.,” Roach remarked, noting that most of the open positions were in the healthcare, financial, and hospitality industries. On the flip side, job openings in the construction and transportation industries were down from the prior month, she said. Of particular significance in the report was the fact that nearly 4 million employees quit their jobs during July, which indicates widespread confidence among workers in finding new opportunities, Roach stated.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the Atlanta Fed’s wage growth tracker showed that wages increased by 3.9% on a three-month moving average, she said, with even higher gains among hourly workers, service-industry employees, and workers who switched jobs.

Roach also noted that initial weekly unemployment claims fell to a pandemic-era low of 310,000 for the week ending Sept. 4. “This shows that companies remain confident in their need to continue hiring,” she remarked. Looking ahead, Roach said that these numbers are likely to move around more in the next few months, particularly in light of the recent end of extended federal unemployment benefits.

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