With a record number of job openings, historically few layoffs and millions of Americans quitting their jobs voluntarily, the balance of power in the U.S. labor market appears to be shifting. As the economy recovers from its COVID slump and employers are looking to staff up, more and more workers are holding out for better, safer, or higher-paying jobs. In June, for the first time since the pandemic brought the U.S. economy to a standstill in the spring of 2020, the number of job openings exceeded the number of unemployed Americans, signaling excess demand in the labor market.
The leisure and hospitality sector, the industry most heavily affected by pandemic-induced layoffs last year, is now at the center of the worker crunch, as 1 in 10 positions in the industry remained vacant at the end of June. Despite 1.35 million hires in the industry, 1.73 million positions remained unfilled at the end of the month, as almost 800,000 workers quit their jobs in search for a better position elsewhere.
The following chart, based on data from the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, shows which industries had the highest job openings rate at the end of June. The job openings rate is the number of job openings divided by all jobs, filled or unfilled, in a given industry. Aside from the hospitality sector, professional and business services as well as the retail sector had trouble finding personnel, while the fewest positions remained unfilled in financial services, mining and logging and construction.