The U.S. is turning into one big "help wanted" ad.
At the end of June, the country had a record 10.1 million job openings, according to data released by the federal government on Monday. Up from May and April, the 10.1 million figure is significant: That's the highest number of open roles since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking them back in 2000.
The new estimate comes just days after the July jobs report, which put the national unemployment rate at 5.4% and the number of unemployed Americans at 8.7 million. Both measures are "down considerably" from spring 2020, when some 23.1 million were unemployed, but still "well above" pre-pandemic levels, the BLS said in a news release.
The bureau named professional and business services, retail trade, and accommodation and food services as industries that saw increased job openings in June. (A job is considered open when there is work available for that role, a person could start within 30 days and the employer is actively recruiting for it.)
Andrew Hunter, co-founder and economist at job search engine Adzuna, theorized that some workers may be hesitant to re-enter the workforce because of threats posed by the quickly spreading — and extremely contagious — delta variant of the coronavirus.
However, Hunter said in a Friday email to reporters, "employers are working hard to tempt workers back, with more companies providing signing bonuses in addition to benefits like support with childcare, on-the-job training and opportunities for upskilling in order to reassure and entice workers." As evidence, he pointed to recent announcements by companies like Walmart and Target offering to cover college costs for employees.
Another potential strategy to fill all those open spots? Increased pay.
The BLS mentioned in Friday's report that "the rising demand for labor associated with the recovery from the pandemic may have put upward pressure on wages," even though it varies by industry. The Washington Post reported leisure and hospitality workers, for example, have seen weekly earnings jump by about 25% since March 2020.
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