US job openings unexpectedly rise to 11.2 million, near a record

US job openings rose unexpectedly in July after a sizable upward revision to the previous month, underscoring persistent tightness in the labour market as employers compete for a limited supply of workers.

The number of available positions edged up to 11.2 million in the month - topping all estimates - from a revised 11 million in June, the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed on Tuesday (Aug 30).

The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a decline to about 10.4 million from a previously reported 10.7 million.

Still-elevated vacancies and a historically low unemployment rate underscore the strength of the US jobs market. The imbalance between labour demand and supply continues to drive robust wage growth that complicates Federal Reserve efforts to tamp down inflation.

There were about 2 jobs for every unemployed person in July, up from 1.9 in June. Some of the largest increases in vacancies were in retail trade, and transportation, warehousing and utilities. Arts, entertainment and recreation also posted more openings from the prior month.

Some 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs in July, down slightly from June. The quits rate, a measure of voluntary job leavers as a share of total employment, edged down to a more than 1-year low of 2.7 per cent.

Layoffs were little changed from a month earlier and hires edged down.

A separate report this morning showed 48 per cent of Americans said jobs were "plentiful" in August, down from the prior month and the smallest share since April 2021. The Conference Board survey also showed consumer confidence rose this month to the highest since May amid falling petrol prices.

The JOLTS data precede Friday's monthly jobs report, which is currently forecast to show the US added about 300,000 payrolls in August. Economists are expecting the unemployment rate to hold at 3.5 per cent - matching a 50-year low - and for average hourly earnings to post another firm advance. BLOOMBERG

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