U.S. Job Openings Fell to 5.37 Million In August From 5.67 Millionby
Quits rate holds at 1.9%, hiring rate unchanged at 3.6%
Openings level was second-highest on records dating to 2000
Job openings in the U.S. retreated in August to the second-highest level on record, indicating employment gains will remain steady.
The number of positions waiting to be filled dropped to 5.37 million, second only to July’s all-time high of 5.67 million, a Labor Department report showed Friday. That agency’s records date back to December 2000.
The August data show managers were upbeat enough about domestic-demand prospects to post vacancies even as China’s currency devaluation led to financial-market turmoil and concerns mounted that emerging-market economies would weigh on global growth. Employers are competing for a dwindling pool of available workers with the jobless rate at a seven-year low, while monthly payroll gains in the past two months have shown a more restrained pace of hiring.
“There’s maybe a little more tightening, a little more difficulty for employers to find the employers that they want,” Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “It hasn’t been matched by the typical pickup in hiring that you’d tend to see.”
The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists projected 5.58 million openings in August.
The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or Jolts, adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring. Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said she follows the report as a gauge of labor-market tightness and worker confidence.
The report showed job openings eased in education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and trade, transportation and utilities industries.
About 2.74 million people quit their jobs in August, little changed from the prior month. The quits rate, which shows the willingness of workers to leave their jobs, held at 1.9 percent and compares with a 2 percent reading when the recession started in December 2007.
The number of people hired increased to 5.08 million from 5.07 million, and the hiring rate held at 3.6 percent. The gauge calculates the number of hires during the month divided by the number who worked or received pay during that period.
Total dismissals, which exclude retirements and those who left their jobs voluntarily, increased to 1.69 million from 1.65 million in July.
In the 12 months ended in August, the economy created a net 2.7 million jobs, representing 60.9 million hires and 58.2 million separations.
There are about 1.5 unemployed Americans vying for each opening, compared with about 1.8 when the last recession began, the figures show.
The JOLTS data follow a separate Labor Department report Oct. 2 that showed employers added 142,000 workers to payrolls in September, fewer than the lowest projection in a Bloomberg survey, and revisions subtracted 59,000 jobs from the prior two months. The jobless rate held at 5.1 percent as Americans left the workforce.
Friday’s figures offer more evidence for Fed policy makers to consider as they weigh when to raise the benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006. While they acknowledged further labor-market progress at their Sept. 16-17 gathering, the officials said a murky overseas growth outlook contributed to the decision to delay a rate increase. The central bankers next meet in Washington Oct. 27-28.