Job Opening Activity Slowed in November

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U.S. job openings fell below consensus expectations of 8.85 million in November, a sign of easing labor market activity ahead of the new year.

The number of job openings on the last business day of November was 8.8 million, the lowest level since March 2021 and the third consecutive month of declining activity, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released Wednesday.

The rate of job openings was unchanged in November, coming in at 5.3%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated in the report.

“Today’s JOLTS data is another signal that the Fed is delivering a soft landing,” said Ron Temple, chief market strategist at Lazard, per CNBC.

Over the month, the number of new hires dropped to 5.5 million (-363,000), and total separations decreased to 5.3 million (-292,000). The sectors with the most significant decrease in separations were professional and business services (-158,000) and educational services (-28,000).

Job openings decreased by 58,000 at the federal government and 128,000 in transportation, warehousing, and utilities. On the other hand, job openings increased by 63,000 in wholesale trade.

The Midwest was the only region of the U.S. that saw an increase in job openings in November (+102,000). The nation’s Southern region reported a decrease of 128,000 job openings, the Northeast dropped by 29,000, and the West fell by 7,000.

While Temple claims Wednesday’s jobs report is good news for American workers and the economy, he also suggests the Fed is “unlikely to cut rates as aggressively in 2024… given the risk of reigniting inflationary pressures.” Though inflation has eased from its June 2022 peak, it remains above the Fed’s 2% target, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

According to Fed Chair Jerome Powell, the majority of participants do not believe it appropriate to raise interest rates further. Still, they do not want to take the possibility off the table.

The first Consumer Price Index report of 2024 will be released on Thursday, January 11.

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