Job openings fall amid Fed efforts to cool labor market


Workers sort packages at a FedEx Express facility on Cyber Monday in Garden City, New York, on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Job openings dipped in October amid the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool off a red-hot employment market, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, a closely watched gauge of slack in the labor force, showed there were 10.3 million vacancies for the month. That’s a decline of 353,000 from September and down 760,000 compared to a year ago.

That left 1.7 job openings per available worker for the month, down from a 2 to 1 ratio just a few months ago.

The Fed has instituted a series of rate hikes aimed at bringing down runaway inflation. One area of particular focus has been the ultra-tight jobs market, with a 3.7% unemployment rate and wage gains that are helping to fuel price pressures.

While the monthly numbers can be volatile, the JOLTS report provided at least some measure that the Fed’s inflation-fighting efforts could be having an impact. The report came the same day that payroll processing firm ADP reported job gains of just 127,000 in November, the lowest total since January.

The quits level, a measure of worker confidence that they can easily move from one job to another, also declined, edging lower to 4.026 million, down 34,000 from a month ago and well below the record 4.5 million in November 2021 during what had been dubbed “The Great Resignation.”

Total separations nudged higher to 5.68 million while layoffs and discharges also rose, up 58,000 to 1.39 million.

The Labor Department on Friday will release payroll growth numbers for December. Economists expect job growth of 200,00 for the month, according to Dow Jones estimates.

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