A “Now Hiring” sign is posted at a Home Depot store on August 05, 2022 in San Rafael, California.

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There were nearly 1 million more job openings than expected in July, an inflationary sign that the U.S. labor market is still extremely tight, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.

Available positions totaled 11.24 million for the month, well in excess of the 10.3 million FactSet estimate, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The total was about 200,000 higher than the 11.04 million in June, a number revised up from the initially reported 10.7 million.

Federal Reserve officials watch the JOLTS numbers closely for signs of slack in hiring.

The July numbers reinforced that there is still a considerable shortage of workers for available positions, with openings outnumbering available workers by just shy of a 2-to-1 margin. That, in turn, is inflationary as employers are forced to offer higher compensation to lure workers at a time when prices are rising near their fastest pace in more than 40 years.

Hiring declined during the month, falling to 6.38 million. Quits, a closely watched metric for worker confidence, also declined, down to 4.18 million as those leaving their jobs as a percentage of the workforce declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.7%, still relatively high by historical standards.

Changing jobs has proven lucrative during the Covid era, with job switchers seeing an average 6.7% annual wage growth rate, well ahead of the 4.9% rate of those who have stayed in their positions, according to the Atlanta Fed.

Total separations declined slightly in July to 5.93 million, as the rate edged lower to 3.9%. Layoffs and discharges were little changed at just under 1.4 million.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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