Job Openings Increased to 11M in October, Talent Acquisition in High Demand to Fill Open Roles

December 9, 2021
Author: Mallory Vachon, Ph.D., Sr. Economist

Total job openings across the U.S. increased to 11 million in October — up over 400,000 from September. As the impacts of the delta variant subsided in October, quits decreased to 4.2 million following a record-level 4.4 million in September, and hires held steady at 6.5 million jobs.

6.5 Million Total Hires Across the U.S. in October 2021

These October numbers — which reflect business decisions made during a key time for holiday hiring and a decline in COVID-19 cases — come less than one week after a disappointing November jobs report on Dec. 3.

Total job openings hitting 11 million reflects business’ demand for talent in the current environment — in the 12 months before the pandemic 7 million job openings per month would be considered normal. Even with so many open roles, hiring hasn’t increased as much as most would like. This labor market tightness is underscored by a 4.2% unemployment rate — nearly every worker who wants a job already has one, so employers will need to get creative to attract talent.

These numbers are likely to remain elevated into 2022, keeping talent acquisition professionals in high demand to fill open roles and vacancies caused by turnover.

Job Openings

Industries with notable increases in job openings for October.

  • Accommodation & Food Services: 254,000
  • Construction: 56,000
  • Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing: 45,000
  • Educational Services: 42,000
  • Professional & Business Services: 35,000


Overall quits declined in October, and these industries had the biggest reductions.

  • Transportation, Warehousing & utilities: -57,000
  • Finance & Insurance: -45,000
  • Accommodation & Food Services: -35,000
  • Arts, Entertainment & Recreation: -33,000
  • Health Care & Social Assistance: -24,000

Labor Force Outlook

LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy projects the U.S. will reach — or even exceed — 73 million hires for 2021, through a combination of filling current job openings, backfilling jobs and adding new jobs. With 6.5 million jobs in October, the economy is on track to exceed this number in 2021.

Note: The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tracks the volume of job openings, hires, quits and other separations, reported on a two-month delay.