Job openings outnumbered the unemployed by more than 2 million in July as companies struggled to fill a record number of vacancies, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

The department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which the Federal Reserve watches closely for signs of slack in employment, showed 10.9 million positions open. That was much higher than estimates of 9.9 million, and also the June total of 10.18 million.

That number swamped the 8.7 million level of those out of work and looking for jobs in July. JOLTS data runs a month behind the regular nonfarm payrolls report, which reported growth of 1.05 million for July.

Hiring slowed sharply in August, with payrolls growing by just 235,000 even as the total unemployed dipped to just shy of 8.4 million.

The rate of job openings measured against the total labor force swelled to 6.9 percent in July, up from 6.5 percent the previous month and 4.6 percent a year ago.

The rate jumped to 10.7 percent from 10.2 percent in the critical leisure and hospitality field, which suffered the most during the Covid-19 pandemic. Openings rose to 1.82 million, a total gain of 134,000 from June.

Financial activities also saw a big gain in openings, with the rate rising to 5.8 percent from 3.8 percent, representing more than 200,000 new positions available. Government openings also increased substantially, to 4.6 percent from 4.2 percent, or a gain of nearly 100,000.

Regionally, the Northeast rate rose to 7 percent from 6.2 percent. Despite being hit hardest by new Covid cases, the South continued to have the highest level of job openings at 7.1 percent, an increase of 226,000 from June.

The hires rate actually dipped for the month, to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent, while the quits rate, seen as a barometer of worker confidence, was unchanged at 2.7 percent. Layoffs and discharges nudged higher to 1 percent.

In just one year, Ohio lost nearly 25% of its servers at restaurants across the state and recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Cleveland nonprofit Ohio Policy Matters show the leisure and hospitality industries aren’t on track to get many of those workers back.

At Stricker’s Grove, a 97-year-old family-run amusement park in Ross, Ohio, staffing on any given day can be a roller coaster.

“This is probably, as far as labor goes, the worst we’ve experienced it,” said Pamela Stricker, the park’s co-owner.

She and other family have been working in various spaces in the park themselves as Stricker’s Grove struggles to keep the full park staffed. There are typically enough workers to run rides for every private event, but staffing the games and golf areas when the park opens to the public four times a year sometimes involves a scramble.

“Sometimes I work at the front gate, sometimes I work at miniature golf,” said Stricker.

The park hopes to build bonds with workers through offers like free drinks all day and creating a welcoming family-like environment. It’s worked for loyal employee Kathy King, a retired Hamilton math teacher who works part time at the park. She and other die-hard employees are the few who returned after the park was shut down in 2020.

“It’s just … my happy place,” said King. “It’s nice to see both kids and adults have a good time and laugh and smile.”

The steady rise in unfilled job openings are charted in statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Mirroring that data, Ohio Policy Matters released a Labor Day report showing the leisure and hospitality industry made up 28% of all the state’s jobs destroyed during the pandemic.

The Strickers haven’t given up hope, however, and they believe what lies ahead will be better. Most of the park’s private-event clients plan to re-book for events next year and owners hope by then staffing will be closer to normal.

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2. MOVING RIGHT ALONG: Cherokee Bluff’s offensive output has been to the liking of its coach Tommy Jones. 

Through two blowout wins, the Bears have shown their big-play capability — accentuated by solid blocking on the offensive line for senior quarterback Sebastian Irons and senior running back Jayquan Smith. 

The good times will likely continue without a lot of resistance for Cherokee Bluff over the next couple weeks, starting Friday against first-year East Forsyth (0-2) in Flowery Branch. 

After that, there’s another non-region matchup for the Bears that should go down easily in the win column against Lakeside-Atlanta (1-1). 

In Week 2, one of the pleasant arrivals for the Bears was young wide receiver Jhace Justice, who snagged a pair of long catches from Irons in a 60-21 win against Chestatee. 

Cherokee Bluff is still three weeks away from the beginning of Region 7-3A play against Gilmer, which is now coached by Paul Standard, the longtime architect of success at St. Pius X and a pair of state finalist squads (2012 and 2014).

3. BREAKING IN THE NEW FIELD: Chestatee (0-1) plays its first game on the new synthetic surface at War Eagles Stadium against Union County on Friday. 

The War Eagles are one of five schools in the Hall County district with a new field this season, along with Johnson, East Hall, West Hall and Cherokee Bluff.

The Panthers (0-1) are coached by Michael Perry, who led the program at East Hall in 2019 and 2020.

4. RIVERSIDE MILITARY TRYING AGAIN: The Eagles deserve an award for patience. 

In Week 3, the Eagles are going to make their third attempt at getting in a regular season game for the first since 2019. In Week 1, heavy storms and lightning halted play for Riverside Military against Notre Dame Academy at Maginnis Field. 

On Aug. 27, the Eagles were unable to suit up against St. Anne-Pacelli, due to coronavirus precautions. 

It’s been almost 700 days since Riverside Military played a regular-season football game. 

The private military school cancelled the 2020 season at the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. 

Riverside Military’s scrimmage against East Hall on Aug. 13 is its only matchup since the 2019 season. 

5. ONLY GAME IN THE CITY: After not being able to play last week, Lakeview Academy has a home game against Rabun Gap tonight in Gainesville. 

In 2021, the Lions (0-1) only have a pair of home games on the schedule. 

Friday’s schedule

Cherokee Bluff vs. East Forsyth

Chestatee vs. Union County

East Hall at Franklin County

North Hall at Hart County

Lakeview Academy vs. Rabun Gap

Riverside Military vs. Druid Hills (at North Dekalb Stadium)

There were record numbers of people on unemployment. And at the same time, employers struggled to find workers.

The solution was logical for 26 states – ax the extra $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits and more people will return to work. Most of the 26 also cut the federal unemployment programs that offered extra weeks of pay after people exhausted their state benefits.

Job searches in those states increased after they announced they were canceling benefits. Jobs started filling faster in May and June, too, before the benefits were actually cut in late June and early July.

But then came a reversal.

In June, for every 100 jobs gained in states that cut the $300, the other states gained 75 jobs, per capita. But in July, for every 100 jobs gained in the $300-ending states, the others gained 116 jobs.

All states will be on the same level after Sept. 4, when the extra $300 goes away. Federal aid like the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program also ends, unless states decide to use their stimulus money to keep the programs going (Michigan plans not to).

State leaders hope the end of the programs will push more people back into work. Economists aren’t banking on it.

What turned the tables?

In June, six of the eight fastest-rebounding states were those that canceled the $300 benefit. Canceling states had 0.55% more jobs than the month prior, while other states only jumped 0.41%. There was a similar trend in May.

Canceling states still had a good July – with jobs growing 0.58%. But the states that still had unemployment leapfrogged them, growing 0.67%.

Now, seven of the eight fastest-growing states were those that didn’t cancel the $300. And all eight were still offering PUA and other federal unemployment programs.

(Can’t see the June chart? Click here.)

(Can’t see the July chart? Click here.)

“This is kind of what we thought would happen – it really wasn’t going to make that much of a difference,” said Brad Hershbein, senior economist with the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo. “It wasn’t the UI checks that was really causing people (to stay jobless).”

One theory to the trend is, the threat of benefits ending has a larger impact than the actual ending date. That would explain why benefit-cutting states saw their biggest swings in June and July – and why the other states saw a jump in July as the Sept. 4 deadline loomed.

Most of the benefit-cutting states are southern, Republican states that were less likely to have COVID-19 restrictions. As a group, they’re at 97.2% of the jobs they had pre-pandemic, compared to 94.2% for the other states.

July’s surge for the benefit-keeping states could be partly because they had more room to “catch up,” Hershbein said. Southern states already reopened most of their leisure and hospitality businesses in the spring, but the return didn’t happen until later for others.

Will Michigan see a surge of job seekers?

Republicans and

Travelers inquire about their flights at a Southwest counter at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines launched this week new hiring referral bonuses for staff as the carrier struggles to hire new workers to keep up with a rebound in travel demand.

“Southwest is experiencing a sharp decline in qualified applicants due to low labor force participation and competition for available talent,” Southwest vice president and chief people officer Julie Weber wrote in a Tuesday note to staff, which was reviewed by CNBC.

Southwest staff can receive 20,000 “SWAG Points” — 10,000 on their referral’s first day of work and 10,000 after that person completes six months with the airline. Those points on Southwest’s internal platform have a taxable value of 1.5 cents each, a company document says, giving the points a value of about $300. Southwest’s points can be redeemed for frequent flyer miles, gift cards or concert tickets.

The points cannot be redeemed for cash, Southwest said. Five employees’ referrals will also be selected each week for 5,000 points for the referring staff member, Weber wrote.

Southwest and other carriers spent much of the pandemic urging workers to take early retirement packages or unpaid or partially paid time off. Now, they are scrambling to hire or retrain staff to cater to the rebound in travel demand that materialized faster than many airline executives expected.

Staffing shortages in the airline industry this summer have led to hourslong hold times for customer service lines and exacerbated flight disruptions from issues such as bad weather. Flight crews at American Airlines and Southwest have complained about a lack of available hotels or food options while they are on duty.

In June, Southwest raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Southwest didn’t say how many employees it hopes to hire. The airline said earlier this year it needs more flight attendants and pilots, though job postings also include ramp and customer service agents among others. The incentive program runs through Nov. 20.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — AHC Hospitality is looking to fill more than 100 openings at a job fair on Tuesday, July 27.

The company, whose properties include the Amway Grand Plaza and JW Marriott, has openings for cooks, dishwashers, front desk staff, housekeeping, security and restaurant front-of-house staff.

The job fair is taking place at the Amway Grand Grand Plaza’s first floor Imperial Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is available in the Amway Grand Plaza or JW Marriott Hotel parking ramp, and parking tickets will be validated inside the hotel.

A full list of the open positions can be found here.

AHC Hospitality says it provides the following benefits:

· A newly increased starting minimum wage for hourly associates, now $14, up 19%

· Health benefits, including dental, vision and medical insurance for full time employees

· Worldwide travel discounts with Hilton and Marriott branded properties

· Paid 30-minute meal periods with free lunch and/or dinner

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The owners of restaurants, amusement parks and retail shops, many of them desperate for workers, are sounding an unusual note of gratitude this summer:

Thank goodness for teenagers.

As the U.S. economy bounds back with unexpected speed from the pandemic recession and customer demand intensifies, high school-age kids are filling jobs that older workers can’t — or won’t.

The result is that teens who are willing to bus restaurant tables or serve as water-park lifeguards are commanding $15, $17 or more an hour, plus bonuses in some instances or money to help pay for school classes. The trend marks a shift from the period after the 2007-2009 Great Recession, when older workers often took such jobs and teens were sometimes squeezed out.

The time, an acute labor shortage, especially at restaurants, tourism and entertainment businesses, has made teenage workers highly popular again.

“We’re very thankful they are here,” says Akash Kapoor, CEO of Curry Up Now. Fifty teenagers are working this summer at his five San Francisco-area Indian street food restaurants, up from only about a dozen last year. “We may not be open if they weren’t here. We need bodies.”

The proportion of Americans ages 16-19 who are working is higher than it’s been in years: In May, 33.2% of them had jobs, the highest such percentage since 2008. Though the figure dipped to 31.9% in June, the Labor Department reported Friday, that is still higher than it was before the pandemic devastated the economy last spring.

At the Cattivella Italian restaurant in Denver, for instance, Harry Hittle, 16, is earning up to $22.50 an hour, including tips, from his job clearing restaurant tables. He’s used the windfall to buy gas and insurance for his car and has splurged on a road bike and an electric guitar.

“There’s never been a better time to apply for a job if you’re a teen,” says Mathieu Stevenson, CEO of Snagajob, an online job site for hourly work.

Consider the findings of Neeta Fogg, Paul Harrington and Ishwar Khatiwada, researchers at Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy who issue an annual forecast for the teenage summer job market. This year, they predict, will be the best summer for teenage lifeguards, ice cream scoopers and sales clerks since 2008; 31.5% of 16- to 19-year-olds will have jobs.

Teenage employment had been on a long slide, leading many analysts to lament the end of summertime jobs that gave teens work experience and a chance to mingle with colleagues and customers from varying backgrounds.

In August 1978, 50% of teenagers were working, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Their employment rate hasn’t been that high since. The figure began a long slide in 2000 and fell especially steeply during the Great Recession. The eruption of coronavirus produced a new low: Only 26.3% of teens had jobs last summer, according to the Drexel researchers.

The long-term drop in teen employment has reflected both broad economic shifts and personal choices. The U.S.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Now that travel is rebounding, a new problem is taking flight — staffing shortages across the airline industry.

Hundreds of American Airlines customers faced canceled flights over the weekend, which the airline attributed to both weather and labor shortages with some vendors.

American says that, depending on the operational need, they may cancel at least 50 to 60 flights a day systemwide for the rest of June, and between 50 to 80 flights per day in early July.

“Customers are able to receive a full refund when the schedule change is more than four hours from their original departure time,” the airline said.

An American Airlines spokeswoman said weather out of hubs including Miami, Dallas and Charlotte have been a factor in their recently canceled flights.

“All previously furloughed team members were recalled in December 2020 in accordance with the extension of the Payroll Support Program. The biggest issue with crew shortage is weather,” the spokeswoman said. “In the first 15 days of June, we saw nine days of bad weather that have impacted at least one of our hubs. Major weather can have lasting impact on our crews as many exceed their eligible work time or need to be rerouted based on flight changes. While we have reserves, bad weather can quickly cause us to exhaust these additional crew resources.”

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The Transportation Security Administration — which earlier this month surpassed 2 million daily travelers screened for the first time since March 2020 — is also looking to increase its staff, hosting hiring events across the country. In some cases, TSA is offering new hires $1,000 as a recruitment incentive.

[Click here for more info on TSA jobs]

“TSA said it would hire, you know, 6,000 new agents, however, they’ve been able to hire about 3,000,” said Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees TSA union. “We think that is highly impossible to hire the remainder before this 4th of July holiday.”

Also hiring are aviation support service vendors that employ baggage workers, ramp workers and cabin cleaning services.

Eulen America has two upcoming job fairs for prospective workers at Miami International Airport. They are participating in Wednesday’s large job fair at Miami Dade College in Hialeah. Then they will hold their own job fair July 8 at their headquarters near the airport.

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Eulen America is holding a job fair at Miami International Airport where applicants can interview on the spot. (Eulen America)

Director of Operations Bill Kilduff says Eulen is are looking for baggage workers, cabin cleaners and ticket-checkers, offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus and $200 referral incentive.

“Staffing has been a very, very big challenge here. It’s probably our largest challenge and we have been trying to hire in a whole bunch of different ways,” he said. “It could be the unemployment, it could be people scared of OVID, but it has been a challenge, not just for us, it’s our competitors, the airlines, and


WINK NEWS

Southwest Florida International Airport is back to pre-pandemic levels when it comes to travelers and with all the crowds, and stores at the airport need help. So a company is working to get new people into positions that need to be filled.

“We’re about 85% staffed,” said Rachel Berta, the general manager of Paradies Lagardère at RSW. “We’re seeing pre-pandemic levels of passengers, which is really great to see, so I would say we’re looking for an additional 10 employees.”

Paradies Lagardère runs 18 stores at the airport, and it needs 10 new employees right away. That might not sound like a lot, but Berta expects that number to go up with the expected spike in passengers this summer.

“I don’t see the slowdown happening at all, so I think we’ll just continue to increase employees with increased passengers,” Berta explained.

In April 2019, more than 1.1 million people flew through RSW. In April 2021, it was more than 1.1 million people. So the battle to get new people hired is real at the airport too.

“We offer a lot of unique incentives right now,” Berta said. “We have a $300 hiring bonus. We have paid shift meals, which isn’t typical for a retailer. We also offer health benefits and flexible schedules.”

Berta told us any experience is welcome. If it’s your first job, they’ll train you to fill the role.

There will be an airport jobs fair 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 16 at the Drury Inn & Suites. The fair will not be limited to retail position openings.

Prospective hires can begin applying to position openings ahead of the job fair. Anyone interested can visit the careers page on the Paradies Lagardère website.

MORE: Careers| Paradies Lagardère

WICHITA — During a normal year, Brian Hill doesn’t have much trouble hiring enough lifeguards to staff Wichita’s six public swimming pools.

Not in this pandemic year.

“Usually I’m about 80% staffed by February,” said Hill, Wichita’s aquatics director. “This year, I was about 10% staffed.”

Lifeguarding took a hit last summer, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed most gyms, water parks and community pools. High school and college students who would normally work as guards took the summer off or found other jobs. Training classes were cancelled. So were junior lifeguard programs for 11- to 14-year-olds.

More:Topekans are going out to eat. Staffing issues have restaurants struggling to meet demand.

“That’s our pipeline,” Hill said. “In a lot of ways, we were kind of starting this summer from scratch.”

Wichita is not alone.

Roeland Park in Johnson County recently spent $1.6 million to renovate its community aquatic center, adding new slides, a climbing wall, shade structures and splash pads. The grand opening was Memorial Day weekend.

But the pool will open for limited hours — only Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends — because there aren’t enough guards to staff it.

Roeland Park boosted lifeguard pay to $12 an hour, up from $10 an hour. Other cities offer signing bonuses and other perks or recruit younger teens.

Prairie Village cut back its pool hours this summer because of the shortage. So will the city of Shawnee in Johnson County.

About a dozen teenagers and young adults attended a recent lifeguard certification class at Northwest High School. Because of COVID-related closures last year, some pools are having a hard time finding enough lifeguards.

Shawnee County last month initially didn’t have sufficient lifeguards, but some new hires left it with “just enough” to staff its seven aquatics facilities at their full complement of hours, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation said in a civic alert posted Friday.

The American Lifeguard Association says lifeguard shortages are common across the country. The traditional summer job is more nostalgia than reality because teens and young adults increasingly look for year-round work.

COVID-related travel restrictions have limited the number of seasonal college and foreign exchange students. And overall interest in lifeguarding is declining.

Pools depend on guards returning year after year, and on younger swimmers envisioning themselves on the lifeguard stand.

“So much of it is kids growing up going to the pool every day,” said Joe Hutchinson, a high school swim coach who manages a private pool in east Wichita. “They see their older friends who are lifeguards, and they say, ‘I want to do that next summer,’ and then they start getting ready for that job and getting certified.

“Since there wasn’t the opportunity to see your friends be lifeguards last summer,” he said, “that new wave of lifeguards that normally fills in those empty spots just isn’t there.”

More:Women left work when jobs left or to care for kids. How will they be affected by fallout?

It’s also hot-weather work that toggles between boredom and stress — part babysitting, part lifesaving. And it’s not for everybody.

“It can be very difficult to deal with people. That’s the hardest part,” said 18-year-old Jacob Steffen, who has worked at