Job Openings Tumble By 284,000, Still 1 Million More Than Unemployed Workers

After the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported record prints for virtually every notable labor market series last month, in September there was a modest easing across the board.

According to the BLS, after an upward revision in the August job openings from 7.136MM to 7.293MM, a record high, in September this number tumbled by 284K to 7.009 million, the biggest monthly drop since May 2017.

Despite the job openings drop, this was still the 3rd consecutive print above 7 million, confirming how labor-starved US employers are, and the 4th consecutive month in which there were more job openings then unemployed workers: considering that according to the payrolls report there were 6.075MM unemployed workers in October, there is just under 1 million more job openings than unemployed workers currently, a modest drop from last month's record 1.2 million (how accurate the BLS data is, is another matter entirely).

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, rhe number of job openings edged down for total private (-188,000) and fell in government (-96,000). Job openings increased in health care and social assistance (+71,000). The number of job openings decreased in many industries, with the largest decreases in professional and business services (-118,000), finance and insurance (-82,000), and state and local government, excluding education (-67,000). The biggest drop in job openings was observed in the South region.

Adding to the exuberant labor picture, while job openings remained above total unemployment, the number of total hires also remained surprisingly high, if also dipping slightly from record highs, and in September it printed at 5.744 million, down from an upward revised, and all time high, 5.906 million in August.  According to the historical correlation between the number of hires and the 12 month cumulative job change (per the Establishment Survey), either the pace of hiring needs to drop, or else the number of new jobs will rise significantly in the coming months.


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