WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. employers posted record job openings for the second consecutive month in July -- more affirmation that the labor market is bouncing back from last year's coronavirus recession.
Job openings rose to 10.9 million in July, up from the previous record of 10.2 million in June, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
But the department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report showed that actual hiring dipped slightly to 6.7 million in July, from 6.8 million in June. Layoffs rose slightly to 1.3 million.
Nearly 4 million people quit their jobs, just shy of a record set in April, and up from 3.9 million in June. That suggests many Americans are confident enough in their prospects to seek something new.
"Overall, employers continue to struggle to find workers with the right skills, and those willing and able to work continue to be very selective," Contingent Macro Advisors said in a research note.
The job market, however, appears to have lost some momentum since July.
A surge in COVID-19 cases linked to highly contagious delta variant has at least temporarily slowed the U.S. economy's strong recovery from last year's brief but intense coronavirus downturn. The coronavirus uptick has taken a toll on consumer confidence and could discourage Americans from going out to bars, restaurants and shops -- something they've been doing with gusto since the rollout of vaccines earlier this year.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy generated a disappointing 235,000 jobs last month -- about a third what economists had expected and down sharply from 962,000 in June and 1.1 million in July. Restaurants and bars cut 42,000 jobs in August. Hotels added just 7,000, fewest since February.