US Job Openings Surge in August, Reflecting Labor Market Resilience

WASHINGTON - In an unexpected turn, the number of job openings at American employers experienced a substantial increase in August, underscoring the ongoing strength of the labor market, according to data released on Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

According to seasonally adjusted data from the latest monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report by BLS, there were approximately 9.61 million open positions in August. This figure represents a notable rise from July's upwardly revised estimate of 8.92 million job openings.

Economists had anticipated a consensus estimate of 8.8 million openings, according to Refinitiv.

The report highlights that some of the most significant increases in job postings occurred in sectors such as professional and business services, finance, other services, and nondurable goods manufacturing.

Although the surge in job openings during August marks a departure from a three-month decline, it's worth noting that the number of available positions, as indicated by JOLTS, remains notably lower than the record high of 12.03 million reported in the spring of 2022. Year-to-date data from BLS shows that job openings have averaged 9.74 million per month.

Julia Pollak, the chief economist of ZipRecruiter, cautioned against reading too much into the month-to-month fluctuations in the JOLTS series, stating, "That [JOLTS] series is very zigzaggy; because it's based on such a small sample, there's quite a lot of statistical noise. So, we shouldn't read too much into one month either way. The longer-term trend is a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels."

Furthermore, data from online employment platforms indicates that job postings have already declined to, and in some cases below, levels seen prior to the pandemic.