Sun, 20 Jun 2021

Officials scramble as U.S. job openings reach new high

Robert Besser
15 May 2021, 20:51 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: U.S. job openings grew to a record high 8 million in March, fueling criticism of the Biden administration's unemployment benefits.

Among the criticisms were concerns that the current $300 weekly unemployment check being distributed is more than what many earned while working.

Unemployment benefits have been extended until September. However, Alabama, Montana and South Carolina are ending government-funded pandemic unemployment benefits for residents next month.

"As more restrictions are lifted throughout the country, more businesses are opening up," said Sophia Koropeckyj of Moody's Analytics, as quoted by Reuters. "However, there seems to be a mismatch between businesses' eagerness to return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normality and many workers' hesitation to step back into the workforce."

By the end of March, employment opportunities increased by 597,000 to 8.1 million, the highest since the report began in 2000. Unfilled jobs were highest in the hotel and food services sector, with 185,000 new vacancies. There were also an additional 155,000 job openings in state and local government education.

In the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, vacancies increased by 81,000 jobs. Vacancies also increased in manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities industries, as well as in finance.

The March job vacancies rate increased to 5.3 percent from 5.0 percent in February.
A separate report indicated that small businesses reported record-high job openings in April. The openings were for both skilled and unskilled labor.

Economists were alarmed after the government reported on May 7 that non-farm payrolls increased by only 266,000 jobs in April, after rising 770,000 in March.

Economists have said job openings and unemployment would be resolved when the extended benefits lapse, companies raise wages and more Americans become vaccinated.

"Before long, many more workers will come back into the job-search as it becomes increasingly safe to pursue these public facing jobs ... and as wages rise to compensate for the extra risk of working in face-to-face places during the lingering pandemic," said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, according to Reuters.

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