Historically low layoffs, astronomical job opportunities, massive hiring, high inflation and job hopping: the strangest job market ever.
Written by Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
Reports of widespread underemployment in education, healthcare, transportation (airlines, good lord!), and other sectors littered with reports of relatively small-scale layoffs in the most speculative sectors of the economy – in big-losing startups, SPAC and IPO space . There were layoffs among mortgage lenders whose yields plummeted when mortgage demand faded and mortgage demand waned due to rising mortgage rates.
In July, the number of layoffs and layoffs fell for the second month in a row and remained in the record low range in data going back to 2000. The 1.398 million layoffs in July were down 42,000 from July last year and down by 428,000, or 23.5% from July 2019, according to the Job Opportunities and Employment Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which was obtained from a survey of 21,000 employers.
This low number of layoffs confirms trends in weekly jobless claims data, released last week by the Labor Department. The 243,000 initial jobless claims filed in this week of reports were slightly up from historic lows earlier this year.
In other words, relatively few people were laid off, and most found new jobs quickly, or had a new job queuing up when they were laid off from the old job and didn’t even bother to apply for unemployment.
In the past, recessions were preceded by unemployment claims that crossed the 350,000 mark. Initial jobless claims from the Labor Department last week:
More job opportunities: the astronomical region.
Job opportunities in July, not adjusted for season, jumped to the second highest level ever, to 12.09 million jobs, behind the record in April, an increase of 482,000 jobs on an annual basis and an increase of 4.45 million jobs, or 61% from July 2019 .
Seasonally-adjusted jobs jumped by 199,000 jobs from June, to 11.24 million jobs in July, up 456,000 year-over-year and up 4.1 million from July 2019.
This is it Not based on some online job postings or whateverbut based on JOLTS data collected by the Census Bureau from 21,000 employers (companies and government entities) by asking about their workforce in July.
This is another sign that the labor market is still tight and that many employers are having difficulties filling positions:
“Finish” back off a little, is still quite high.
The number of workers who left their jobs voluntarily in July fell for the fourth month in a row, to 4.18 million, but remained 15% higher than the levels already high in July 2019.
“Laying off” is a sign that employees either already have what they think is a better-ranked job, or are confident they can get it quickly. This large number of “quits” reflects job-hopping by workers trying to balance a narrow labor market in their favour, amid violent corporate hiring processes. This creates great momentum in the workforce.
But the four consecutive months of declines suggest that confidence in finding a better job, amid stories of layoffs, hiring freezes and so on, may be dwindling a bit:
Recruitment is still very strong.
Private sector employers employed 7.1 million workers in July, without a seasonal adjustment, including the remaining increase in seasonal hiring that began in May and June.
Seasonally adjusted, employers employed 5.98 million workers, down from the previous month, and down 2.7% from the employment boom in July last year. Compared to July 2019, employers employed 370,000 additional workers (+8.4%).
This is not all the new jobs that have been filled, they are far from it. Many of these “employees” filled the jobs that were left when workers left to work elsewhere as part of the massive change in the workforce:
Job opportunities in the largest industry categories.
Professional and business services: The number of job vacancies in July decreased from June to 2.09 million, but is still 8.0% higher than July last year, and in a sign of how crazy this job market is, it is up 63.1% from already high levels. In July 2019:
Health care and social assistance: Job openings fell to 1.98 million in July, in the same astronomical range of 2 million since December last year. On an annual basis, openings are up 15% and compared to July 2019, they are up 65%, amid countless reports of shortages of doctors, nurses and other staff in healthcare facilities.
Entertainment and HospitalityJob opportunities increased slightly from June to 1.52 million in July, up 57% from July 2019. Restaurants and hotels made significant headway in employment, after the surge in job opportunities that occurred when restaurants and hotels reopened. On an annual basis — then from what was still a reopening high last year — job opportunities fell 5.3%:
Retail: Job opportunities jumped in July to 970,000, but retailers made progress filling in the job rise that occurred with the reopening of the industry. Up 16% as of July 2019, retail employment is returning to normal levels of randomness:
State and local government, mostly in education: Job vacancies jumped to 924,000 (seasonally adjusted), just below the record in December 2021, and about the same as January, February and April. A 52% rise from July 2019, amid endless reports of teacher shortages.
manufacturing: Jobs, at 834,000 in July, are still in astronomical territory, a 92% increase from July 2019, but some spikes in April:
Building: The number of job vacancies rose to 375,000 in July, up 11% year-on-year and up 17% from July 2019:
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