US Job Openings Soar to Record 9.3 Million but Hiring Stalls Due to 'Safety Net' Lifeline

Job openings in the United States soared to 9.3 million in April from a revised 8.3 million in the prior month, according to the data released on Tuesday by the Labor Department.

At the same time, though companies have a record number jobs openings, they are struggling to fill the positions, the data shows as well. This happens despite there being a high level of unemployment in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Temporary Lifeline

Reuters reported last week that the labor shortage, has been blamed on the safety net offered during the pandemic. Even as the government provided temporary lifeline to people hit by the pandemic, the direct financial support seems to have dampened hiring despite there being nearly 10 million unemployed Americans.

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As many as 48 percent of small businesses said they could not fill open jobs in April, which is a record. According to the MarketWatch, many firms say they are losing sales as they don't have enough staff to produce goods. The companies say that they even higher pay is not attracting jobseekers.

In perspective, the number of job openings had plunged to a low of 4.6 million during the height of the coronavirus crisis last year. The US economy added a combined 837,000 new jobs in May and April.

The Jobs Report - Details

Levels in thousands

Apr 2021 Mar 2021 Feb 2021 Jan 2021 Dec 2020 Apr 2020

Job openings (1) 9,286 8,288 (r) 7,526 7,099 6,752 4,630

Hires (2) 6,075 6,006 (r) 5,794 5,465 5,411 3,942

Separations (3) 5,760 5,436 (r) 5,429 5,323 5,582 11,782

Quits (4) 3,952 3,568 (r) 3,383 3,306 3,407 2,107

Layoffs and discharges 1,444 1,525 (r) 1,723 1,724 1,823 9,307

Economy Gathering Steam

Data showed last week that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped more than expected as layoffs subsided, with companies desperate for workers to meet surging demand unleashed by a rapidly reopening economy.

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Job seekers look at help-wanted advertisements at a job fair in Seoul September 21, 2011 Representational (Lee Jae-Won/File Photo/Reuters)

The economy, which in the first quarter notched its second-fastest growth pace since the third quarter of 2003, is gathering momentum, with other data showing business spending on equipment accelerated in April. Activity is being boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic's easing grip and nearly $6 trillion in relief provided by the government over the past year.

Pandemic-related restrictions on businesses have been rolled back, with more than half of adults in the United States fully vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving factories, construction sites, restaurants and bars, among many, clamoring for workers.

Related topics : Coronavirus