Jobs Remained Open As Layoffs Fell Again: September 6 – 10

Hiring failed to keep up in July. Here are the five things we learned from U.S. economic data released during the week ending September 10.


Job openings jumped to another record-high in July. Employers had a seasonally adjusted 10.934 million job openings at the end of the month, up 749,000 from June to a record for the Bureau of Labor Statistics measure. The industries trying to fill the most jobs were education/health services, professional/business services, leisure/hospitality, and retail. Meanwhile, hiring slowed by 150,000 in July to 6.667 million, including 1.397 million hires in leisure/hospitality. Hiring in retail slowed sharply. 5.786 million left their jobs during the month, up 174,000 from June. 3.977 million people quit their job (up 107,000 for the month), while layoffs grew by 105,000 to 1.459 million.

Jobless claims fell to another pandemic low in early September. The Department of Labor indicates that there were a seasonally adjusted 310,000 first-time claims made for unemployment insurance benefits. There have not been this was the fewest initial jobless claims since mid-March 2020. The measure’s four-week moving average also dropped to a pandemic low at 339,500 (down 61.7 percent from the same week a year earlier).  

Wholesale prices continued heating up in August. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand jumped a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent. While this was below June’s and July’s 1.0 percent advances, the Bureau of Labor Statistics measure has surged 8.3 percent over the past year (its biggest year-to-year advance since its relaunch in 2010). Core PPI (net of food, energy, and trade services) increased 0.3 percent, its smallest gain since last November but leaving the index up 6.3 percent since July 2020. Energy PPI increased 0.4 percent (its smallest increase since April), while food PPI surged 2.9 percent (led by meat and chicken). The BLS will report on August consumer prices this upcoming week.

Growth in wholesaler inventories failed to keep pace with sales in July. Merchant wholesalers’ inventories swelled 0.6 percent during the month to a seasonally adjusted $722.4 billion. The Census Bureau measure was up 11.5 percent from a year earlier. Durable goods inventories expanded 1.0 percent (even as those for automobiles shrank 0.6 percent) and nondurables inventories contracted 0.1 percent (including sizable declines for apparel and petroleum). Wholesale sales rose 2.0 percent to $601.3 billion (+23.7 percent versus July 2020), split between gains for durables and nondurables of +1.1 percent and +2.8 percent, respectively. As a result, the inventories to sales (I/S) ratio dropped by two basis points to 1.20, its lowest reading in seven years. The I/S ratio was at 1.33 a year earlier.

Consumers added to their credit card balances in July. The Federal Reserve estimates outstanding consumer credit balances (net of mortgages and other real estate backed loans) grew by $17.0 billion to a seasonally adjusted $4.331 trillion. Consumer credit balances have risen 4.2 percent over the past year. Revolving credit balances—representing credit cards—totaled $998.4 billion in July, up $5.6 billion for the month and 3.8 percent since bottoming out in January. Nonrevolving credit balances, including those from college and auto loans, increased by $11.4 billion during the month to $3.333 trillion (5.3 percent above year-ago levels).

Other U.S. economic data released over the past week:

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Kevin’s current employer. No endorsements are implied.

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