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Job Openings Hit 10.4 Million in September

Retailers Feeling the Brunt of Job Openings

Initial and existing unemployment claims are hitting new pandemic lows, but the nation’s businesses are still struggling to find workers. That is particularly true for retailers which rely on employees to pack and ship goods and serve customers.

According to the Labor Department, at the end of September there were 10.4 million job openings, the same as August. In July, job openings stood at a record 10.9 million. At the same time, the number of people quitting their jobs hit 4.4 million in September. Prior to the pandemic, peak job openings were about 7.5 million.

Tight Labor Market Expected to Persist

The problem is not expected to improve for the remainder of the year as businesses look to hire more staff for the holidays. This year is expected to be a strong one in terms of consumer spending. As a result, retailers are gearing up to hire as many as 665,000 seasonal workers. That is up from 486,000 last year.

Target said it wants to hire 100,000 seasonal workers while Walmart and Amazon each want to add 150,000 staff members for the holidays. UPS is aiming to bring on 100,000 seasonal workers as well. To lure workers, companies are raising salaries and offering bonuses.

Consumer Confidence Cracking

The increase in job openings is not only impacting the retail, shipping, hospitality, and delivery markets. Consulting firms, human resource departments, software companies, and pharmacies are all facing a dearth of workers. The rising job openings come at the same time consumer confidence is starting to drop. In November, consumer confidence reached a 10-year low as inflation hit levels not seen in more than thirty years. One in four consumers indicated they reduced their living standards due to higher prices.

Companies are struggling to fill empty positions even as consumer confidence starts to deteriorate. With inflation continuing to rise and consumers getting pinched, it will be interesting to see if those job openings begin to get filled.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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