10.4 million open jobs nationally, a drop from last month, but still too few takers.

Job openings in August fell to 10.4 million across the nation, a decline from the record setting 10.9 million posted in July. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports,

The number of job openings declined to 10.4 million on the last business day of August following a series high in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Hires decreased to 6.3 million while total separations were little changed at 6.0 million. Within separations, the quits rate increased to a series high of 2.9 percent while the layoffs and discharges rate was little changed at 0.9 percent. 

Yesterday’s newsletter focused on the labor shortage and the mismatch between slow hiring and record numbers of unfilled jobs.

Bloomberg reports today’s numbers represent the first decline in job openings this year.

U.S. job openings declined in August for the first time this year — though remained near a record high — as demand for labor wavered slightly amid rising Covid-19 cases during the month.

The number of available positions eased to 10.4 million from an upwardly revised 11.1 million in July, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed Tuesday. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for 11 million openings.

The high number of voluntary quits remains a concern. Calculated Risk writes,

Quits were up 43% year-over-year to a new record high.

Bloomberg notes,

Meantime, more people voluntarily left their jobs, underscoring how wage increases, sign-on incentives and a plethora of job vacancies are fueling significant turnover. The quits rate, or the number of quits in the month as a percent of total employment, increased to a record 2.9%.

Despite the pullback in job vacancies, the still-elevated level of openings points to a persistent mismatch between labor supply and demand in the economy. Businesses ranging from manufacturers to restaurants are desperate for workers, but workforce participation remains depressed amid ongoing virus fears, choppy school reopenings and built-up savings accounts.

Washington Post columnist Karla L. Miller has more on what she calls “the great resignation.”