The numbers: Companies have a record number of open jobs, but they can’t find enough people to fill them despite still-high unemployment tied to the pandemic.
Job openings in the U.S. soared to 9.3 million in April from a revised 8.3 million in the prior month, the Labor Department said Tuesday.
The number of job openings had fallen to as low as 4.6 million last year in the early stages of the pandemic.
The huge cache of available jobs is not being filled very rapidly, however.
The economy added a combined 837,000 new jobs in May and April, but that still leaves the U.S. more than 7.6 million short compared to the last month before the onset of the pandemic.
Read: The U.S. added 559,000 new jobs in May. It’s OK, not great.
Many companies big and small say it’s hard to find qualified workers. A record 48% of small businesses, for instance, said they could not fill open jobs in April.
Read: ‘We are struggling to find employees to help us keep up,’ manufacturers say
Big picture: The economic recovery is pretty strong, but it would be even stronger if companies could hire more people. Many businesses say they are losing out on sales because they don’t have enough staff to produce goods or serve customers. Even higher pay hasn’t been enough to do the trick.
The surprising difficulty in getting people to return to work is tied to a number of problems, economists say. They blame a wave of early retirements, a lack of child-care options, a lingering fear of the coronavirus asnd generous unemployment benefits.
Read: Record job openings and higher pay still not enough to get Americans back to work
These problems probably won’t fully clear up at least until the fall, they say.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and the S&P 500
fell in Tuesday trades.