June 20, 2024
Finance

Job openings fall to lowest level since February 2021


Job openings fell in April to their lowest level since February 2021 as the labor market shows further signs of cooling off from the hiring boom that followed the US economy reopening after the pandemic.

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday showed there were 8.06 million jobs open at the end of April, a decrease from the 8.35 million job openings in March.

March’s figure was revised lower from the 8.48 million open jobs initially reported. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the report to show 8.35 million openings in April.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) also showed 5.6 million hires were made during the month, little changed from March.

The hiring rate held at 3.6%, unchanged from March. Also in Tuesday’s report, the quits rate, a sign of confidence among workers, held steady at 2.2%.

“The decline in openings points to a slower pace of hiring in the months ahead. However, layoffs remain low, so net job growth should continue to be positive,” Oxford Economics lead US economist Nancy Vanden Houten wrote in a note following Tuesday’s release.

Investors have closely watched the JOLTS report, along with other key labor market data, for signs that cooling labor demand could help inflation pressures ease, strengthening the case for the Federal Reserve to begin lowering interest rates from 23-year highs.

Vanden Houten noted that the Fed will welcome signs of cooler labor market conditions from the latest JOLTS report, but the central bank likely needs to see further evidence of inflation falling before cutting rates.

Read more: How does the labor market affect inflation?

“The labor market remains healthy enough to allow Fed policy decisions to be primarily guided by readings on inflation,” Vanden Houten wrote.

The report kicks off a busy week for labor market data, which will also include updates on private sector hiring and wage growth from ADP on Wednesday, jobless claims on Thursday, and the May jobs report on Friday.

The May jobs report is expected to show 185,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were added to the US economy last month with unemployment holding steady at 3.9%, according to data from Bloomberg.

In April, the US economy added 175,000 jobs while the unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1% to 3.9%.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: A 'Now Hiring' sign posted on the window of a business looking to hire workers on May 05, 2023 in Miami, Florida. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the US economy added 253,000 jobs in April.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: A 'Now Hiring' sign posted on the window of a business looking to hire workers on May 05, 2023 in Miami, Florida. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the US economy added 253,000 jobs in April.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A ‘Now Hiring’ sign posted on the window of a business looking to hire workers on May 5, 2023, in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (Joe Raedle via Getty Images)

Josh Schafer is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on X @_joshschafer.

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