While total nonfarm employment still trails its pre-pandemic level by almost 4 million jobs and the unemployment rate remains slightly elevated compared to its pre-Covid level, the U.S. job market continues to tighten as many employers struggle to fill open positions. In October, the number of job openings in the United States once agains climbed past 11 million, while layoffs came within 8,000 of their record low recorded in May of this year. The number of Americans voluntarily leaving their job fell slightly from its all-time high to 4.2 million, indicating that workers are confident to find another, possibly better gig elsewhere.
The number of job openings is now once again exceeding the number of unemployed people like it did before the pandemic, showing that work is in tight supply as more and more businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, are staffing up again, or at least trying to. According to the BLS, 7.4 million Americans were unemployed at the end of October compared to 11.0 million job openings.
As the following chart shows, the ratio of unemployed persons per job opening fell below 0.7 in October, down from 5.0 in April 2020. Prior to the pandemic, the number of job openings had continuously exceeded the level of unemployment since March 2018, but the labor market was never as tight as it currently is.