Job Openings Keep Rising, on Pace to Set Record: Indeed Hiring Lab

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
September 30, 2021 Updated: September 30, 2021

Real-time job openings data from Indeed Hiring Lab show the number of vacancies in the United States continuing to climb and on pace to hit a record high when the government publishes official statistics next month.

There were an estimated 11.6 million job openings in the United States as of Sept. 24, according to an analysis by the research and insights division of the Indeed job site. If this estimate holds when the government publishes its official September statistics on Nov. 12, that will top the record, which currently stands at 10.9 million as of the last day of July.

The Indeed estimate assumes that the pace of job opening growth tracked by the company matches the one measured by the Labor Department in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The latest monthly JOLTS report, released Sept. 8, showed that the number of job vacancies jumped by 749,000 over the month to an all-time high of 10.9 million on July 31.

The next JOLTS report, which will show the number of job openings on the last day of August, is due Oct. 12, while the Nov. 12 report will show the number of vacancies on the final day of September.

The Indeed data provides a real-time picture of labor market activity and so is more up to date than the Labor Department’s official monthly snapshot. The Indeed figures show that the number of job openings between July 31 and Sept. 24 rose by 6.1 percent, which works out to around 11.6 million, which would make it the highest number in the history of the JOLTS job opening series.

Hiring difficulties have emerged as a key issue for businesses as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic recession. There are now around 2.5 million more job openings than there are unemployed people in the United States.

A recent review of job opening data by the St. Louis Federal Reserve reinforces the picture of continuing labor market tightness, with the number of days it takes to fill an open position more than doubling in recent months.

“The pandemic created special circumstances: First, job openings dropped like a stone, so these few remaining open positions could be filled quickly,” Fed analysts wrote in a recent blog post.

“Soon, conditions reverted. And now we’re in a situation where there are many openings and relatively few of them are being filled. In a matter of months, the time to fill an open position went from 20 days to 50 days, which may go higher still,” the analysts wrote.

While the continued reopening of the economy has driven many businesses to seek workers, hiring efforts have been hampered by a labor shortage, with analysts generally pointing to factors such as child care issues, lingering worries about the pandemic, and generous unemployment benefits.

The federal pandemic jobless aid programs have ended in all states, with future labor market reports sure to be closely scrutinized for whether rolling back those programs drove a bump in job searches and hiring.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'