US jobs openings increase nearly 6 million in June, but still below pre-pandemic level: Labor Department

Job openings were above 7 million in February

U.S. job openings increased nearly 6 million in June as many workers in the restaurant and service industries quit, yet overall vacancies still remained below pre-pandemic levels, according to a Monday report from the Labor Department.

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In its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the Labor Department said job openings rose 518,000 to 5.9 million on the last business day of June.

FILE: A help wanted sign shows at Illinois Air Team Test Station in Lincolnshire, Ill.  (AP)

Nick Bunker, director of research at Indeed Hiring Lab, told Reuters that the significant increase in job openings may have less to do with additional workers than it does with “backfilling positions from workers who quit positions due to concerns about the virus, lack of childcare options, or similar reasons,” said Nick Bunker, director of research at Indeed Hiring Lab.

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He noted that the increases in quitting are usually a sign of worker confidence in the labor market, but given the current circumstances, “it’s hard to see workers feeling quite confident with unemployment in the double digits.”

Job openings have yet to exceed their level of 7 million in February.

Some of the biggest job openings in June occurred in the accommodation and food services, as well as the health care and social assistance sector.

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The JOLTS report comes after last week’s news that the economy created some 1.76 million jobs in July, down from a record 4.79 million jobs in June, Reuters reported.

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