The number of employment openings in the United States increased unexpectedly in August. According to new data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings at US employers suddenly surged in August, a testament to the sustained strength of the labor market.
According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 9.61 million job openings in August. This is an increase from the upwardly revised estimate of 8.92 million starts in July.
According to Refinitiv, the consensus estimate from economists was 8.8 million openings. According to the report, the sectors with the most significant job postings increase were professional and business services, finance, other services, and nondurable product manufacturing.
Even though August’s increase in openings reverses a three-month decline, the number of available jobs estimated by JOLTS remains significantly lower than the record high of 12,03 million set in the spring of 2022. BLS data shows openings have averaged 9.74 million per month this year.
In addition, data from online employment sites indicate that job postings have already returned to, and in some instances fallen below, pre-pandemic levels, according to ZipRecruiter’s chief economist, Julia Pollak.
She stated, “That [JOLTS] series is quite erratic; because it’s based on such a small sample, there’s quite a bit of statistical noise.” Therefore, we should only read a little in one month. The longer-term trend is a progressive return to levels before the pandemic.”
Other critical indicators of labor mobility monitored as part of the JOLTS report revealed minimal movement.
The number of new hires increased from 5.82 million in July to 5.86 million in August, the number of workers quitting their positions rose from 3.62 million to 3.64 million, and the number of layoffs remained unchanged at 1.68 million.
In addition, despite the rise in job openings, the increase in the number of people returning to the labor force in August means that there are still 1.5 job openings for every unemployed person seeking employment, according to BLS data. Last year, at this time, the ratio was 1.7.
Federal Reserve officials have frequently cited the robust labor market, particularly the imbalance between the number of job postings and the number of job seekers, as a significant factor in reducing inflation.
“The Fed’s massive rate hikes are crushing core consumer inflation,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief economist at FwdBonds. “However, the labor market has escaped the wrath of tighter monetary policy, with job openings erasing the soft spot for job offerings at the beginning of summer.”
Investors reacted negatively to the unexpected increase. During morning trading, stocks declined, with the three major indexes entering the red and the Dow falling more than 300 points.