US job openings beat forecasts, rise for a 3rd straight month amid continued labor-market recovery

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US job openings beat forecasts, rise for a 3rd straight month amid continued labor-market recovery
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  • Job openings in the US gained for the third month in a row in July as the labor market continued its steady climb from pandemic-induced lows.
  • US job openings gained by 617,000 to 6.6 million through the month, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover, or JOLTS, survey data.
  • The reading beat all estimates from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
  • On a less encouraging note, the pace of hires fell to 4.1% from 5.1% in July. The reading brings the US hiring rate close to its pre-pandemic level while millions of Americans remained jobless.

Job openings in the US jumped more than expected in July as the labor market's recovery from the coronavirus pushed forward.

US job openings increased by 617,000 to 6.6 million through the month, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Wednesday. The reading beat all estimates from economists surveyed by Bloomberg and marked a third-straight month of improvement. The largest increases landed in the retail, healthcare and social assistance, and construction industries.

"These changes in the labor market reflected an ongoing resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it," the Labor Market said in the report.

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Some of the survey's data revealed weak points in the labor market's recovery. The pace of hires sank to 4.1% in July from 5.1%, bringing it barely above pre-pandemic levels as millions of Americans remained jobless. The overall number of hires fell by roughly 1.2 million to 5.8 million.

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The ratio of jobs-to-unemployed Americans remained at worrying levels. July saw roughly 14.9 million unemployed workers vying for the 6.6 million openings, or about 2.3 workers competing for each vacancy. The trend marks a sharp reversal from when the labor market touted more openings than unemployed Americans.

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"This morning's JOLTS data show hiring has slowed dramatically and is now slightly below pre-virus levels," Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said. "This is particularly concerning given the enormous remaining jobs deficit. Without congressional action to stimulate the economy, we are facing a slow, painful recovery."

Total separations, which include quits and layoffs, gained by 108,000 to 5 million. Separations increased in the retail and state and local government education industries.

The US quits rate gained to 2.1 percent, while the total jumped by 344,000 to 2.9 million.

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Layoffs and discharges fell to 1.7 million from roughly 2 million. The rate of layoffs and discharges fell to 1.2% in July from 1.4%.

JOLTS data trails the nation's monthly payrolls report by one month. The US added 1.37 million jobs in August for its fourth-straight month of job additions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Friday report. The unemployment rate fell more than expected to 8.4%.

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