Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg

Job Openings in U.S. Held Steady in September Near Record High

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U.S. job openings in September held near a record high despite the fallout from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, indicating a resilient job market, Labor Department data showed Tuesday.

Highlights of Job Openings (September)

  • Number of positions waiting to be filled rose by 3k to 6.093m (est. 6.075m) from revised 6.09m in August, acc. to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey or JOLTS
  • Hiring fell to 5.273m from 5.42m; hiring rate fell to 3.6% from 3.7%
  • 3.182m people quit their jobs, up from 3.093m; quits rate rose to 2.2% from 2.1%

Key Takeaways

The hurricane effect was evident in the latest mix of vacancies, with openings in accommodation and food services down 111,000, the most since 2001.

At the same time, underlying demand for workers remains healthy, as professional and business services openings jumped to 1.19 million, the highest in more than a year. Employers are citing a shortage of qualified Americans as the economy approaches full employment. 

The figures are in sync with a Labor Department report last week that showed payrolls rebounded in October and were revised for September to a gain from a decline, signaling a smaller and more transient hit from the storms than initially estimated. The rise in the quits rate bodes well for faster wage growth, which has remained elusive in recent years.

Other Details

  • Layoffs fell to 1.703 million from 1.781 million
  • There were 1.1 unemployed people vying for every opening in September, compared with 1.9 people when the recession began in late 2007
  • Finance and insurance, durable goods manufacturing, state and local education posted more openings; construction, retail and information saw declines
  • In the 12 months through September, the economy created a net 1.8 million jobs, representing 63.9 million hires and 62.1 million separations
  • Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring
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