A “Now Hiring” sign is displayed on a shopfront on October 21, 2022 in New York City.
Leonardo Munoz | View Press | Corbis News | Getty Images
Job openings declined slightly in January, but the number of available workers is still down significantly, as the labor picture remains tight, according to data released Wednesday.
labor department Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed there are 10.824 million openings, down 410,000 from December, the Labor Department reported. This equates to a difference of 1.9 job opportunities per available worker, or 5.13 million.
Despite the decline, the total FactSet estimate was over 10.58 million. The December numbers were also revised upwards by over 200,000.
Citigroup economist Gisela Hoxha wrote, “Data from January’s aftershocks suggest that the labor market may have loosened somewhat on the margins, but it is still much tighter than in previous historical periods and has a negative impact on wages and prices.” The upside risk continues.”
Federal Reserve officials watch the Jolts report closely as they formulate monetary policy. In remarks on Capitol Hill this week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell Called the jobs market “extremely tight” and cautioned that the recent flood of data showing resurgent inflationary pressures May increase interest rates further than expected.
Powell told the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday that the JOLTS report is an important data point that will be examined before a decision on rates is made at the March 21-22 policy meeting.
The JOLTS report showed hiring was brisk for the month, with employers bringing on 6.37 million workers, the most since August.
Total separations were little changed, while exits, a sign of workers’ confidence in mobility, fell to 3.88 million, the lowest level since May 2021. Layoffs, however, rose sharply, to 241,000 or 16%.
Earlier Wednesday, payroll processing firm ADP The report said companies added 244,000 workers for February, another sign that hiring has been resilient despite Fed rate hikes aimed at slowing economic growth and a cooling labor market.
There were few other signs of softening, with manufacturing openings falling 240,000, or 49%. The ADP report indicated that the trend followed until February, with 16,000 jobs lost in the sector. Leisure and hospitality, a leader in job gains over the past two years, also saw a decline of 194,000 openings in January.
Markets will get a more comprehensive view of the jobs picture when the Labor Department releases its non-farm payrolls report on Friday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect payrolls to increase by 225,000 and the unemployment rate to remain at 3.4%.