Job openings hit their lowest level since March 2021 in November, coming in lower than Wall Street expected and reflecting a continued cooling in the labor market to end 2023.
There were 8.79 million jobs open at the end of November, a slight decrease from the 8.85 million job openings in October, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected there were 8.82 million openings in November.
“The latest JOLTS data should please Fed officials as it marks another step toward healthier labor market conditions,” Nationwide financial market economist Oren Klachkin wrote in a note to clients on Wednesday.
The report also showed the quits rate, a sign of confidence among workers, slipped to 2.2%, down from 2.3% in the previous month, and its lowest level since September 2020. Additionally, the JOLTS report showed 5.5 million hires were made in the month, a slight decrease from the 5.9 million seen last month.
The hiring rate fell to 3.5% down from 3.7% in October.
“That’s a sign of a labor market that’s a little bit softer than what it was, you know, before the COVID shock and that warrants some attention,” EY chief economist Greg Daco told Yahoo Finance. “It’s nothing worth panicking about.”
“It’s nothing excessively concerning but both [hiring and quits rates] are worth monitoring carefully because further deterioration in the hiring rate and the quits rate would indicate more malaise in the labor force.”
Wednesday’s data added to the recent market narrative that the labor market is cooling while inflation continues on its downward trajectory.
The JOLTS report kicks off a key week of releases for the labor market that will end with Friday’s December jobs report. The report is expected to show 170,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were added to the US economy last month while the unemployment rate ticked higher to 3.8%, according to data from Bloomberg.