Job Openings, Hires, Quits All Tumble As Labor Market Hits Unexpected Air Pocket

After the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported record prints for virtually every notable labor market series in the late summer, there has been a notable slowdown in the labor market, and according to the BLS, after an upward revision in the October job openings from 7.079MM to 7,131MM, in November this number tumbled by 243K to 6.688 million, the lowest number since last June.

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Despite the decline in job openings, this will still be the 9th consecutive month in which there were more job openings then unemployed workers: considering that according to the payrolls report there were 6,294MM unemployed workers in December, there is now just under 600K more job openings than unemployed workers currently, (how accurate, or politically-biased the BLS data is, is another matter entirely).

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In other words, in an economy in which there was a perfect match between worker skills and employer needs, there would be zero unemployed people at this moment (of course, that is not the case.)

According to the BLS, the number of job openings decreased for total private (-237,000) and was little changed for government. Job openings increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+40,000). The job openings level decreased in a number of industries, with the largest decreases in other services (-66,000) and construction (-45,000). Job openings fell in the West region

Adding to the unexpectedly downbeat labor picture, as job openings tumbled, the number of total hires also slumped, sliding by 218K November, and printing at 5.710 million. Hires fell for total private (-236,000) and was little changed for government. Hires increased in the federal government (+8,000) but decreased in professional and business services (-167,000). The number of hires decreased in the South region. According to the historical correlation between the number of hires and the 12-month cumulative job change (per the Establishment Survey), the pace of hiring right now is precisely where it should be relative to the cumulative change in hiring.

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