Labor Shortages Hitting Hard with a Record 10.1M Job Openings

August 9, 2021
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Author: Jay Denton

Finding, retaining and developing workers becomes a business imperative.

Total job openings across the U.S. posted a new record of 10.1 million in June. For the fourth consecutive month, the economy has set a record for the number of job openings, but still, the lack of labor prevents businesses from filling necessary roles.

JOLTS June 2021

As a note, through the halfway point of the year, there were a little over 36 million hires - meaning that if the U.S. kept the same pace of hiring, we will hit LaborIQ’s initial forecast of 72 million total hires in 2021, which is great progress for the economy.

With over 10 million jobs to be filled, the U.S. is on pace for a full jobs recovery by late 2022 or early 2023; that is, if the Delta variant doesn’t dismantle progress of businesses’ productivity and workers’ availability.

Complicating matters are the 3.9 million people that quit their job in June. Now, businesses are not only faced with staffing new open roles, but also will have to backfill roles vacated by employees seeking different opportunities and more competitive compensation.

The Future of Talent Acquisition

Record trends in job openings, and an even higher-than-normal quits rate, signal that the supply of talent is finally starting to gain confidence in the market and are now more willing to return to the workforce or leave a position for a new one. This is especially important in industries where large gaps in productivity continue to hamper business growth.

Accommodation and Food Services: Even as consumer demand and spending has bounced back, workers have been difficult to place, especially in roles that are paid hourly. The spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant has the potential to quickly impact businesses in this sector, with the most significant risk to continued and higher numbers of job openings. Healthcare Consumers spent more on healthcare services in the second quarter of 2021 than in the first three months of the year. Healthcare providers will continue to be one of the most in-demand occupations, as people cope with ongoing and new health risks.

Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities: With 70,000 new openings in June, this sector’s need to move goods, and now travelers, has only increased as businesses seek to restock inventories to meet consumer demands. The supply chain backlog across multiple sectors, as well as increased air travel will continue to test short-staffed operators.

Labor Force Outlook

ThinkWhy’s talent intelligence software, LaborIQ®, projects the U.S. will reach 73 million hires for 2021, from a combination of filling current job openings, backfilling jobs and adding new. Despite strong job gains over the last two months, infections from the Delta variant could slow hiring in the coming weeks and months, which will in turn, impact pace of the labor market recovery.

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy reports, forecasts and advises on employment conditions and the impact to jobs, industries and businesses across all U.S. cities.