March job openings fell more than expected to the lowest level in nearly two years


An employee hiring sign with a QR code is seen in a window of a business in Arlington, Virginia, on April 7, 2023.

Elizabeth Frantz | reuters

The Labor Department reported on Tuesday that job openings pulled back further in March, reaching a nearly two-year low in a sign that the ultra-tight US job market is loosening and possibly exerting downward pressure on inflation. .

of department Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey The total number of vacancies for the month stood at 9.59 million, lower than February’s 9.97 million and lower than FactSet’s estimate of 9.64 million, it showed.

At the same time, layoffs and furloughs increased from 248,000 to more than 1.8 million, with the rate reaching 1% to 1.2% as a share of the workforce.

Although the data set lags the nonfarm payrolls number by a month, the Federal Reserve watches the JOLTS report closely for signs of a labor contraction. A lower number is positive for inflation because it indicates less pressure on wages and could ease pressure on the Fed to continue raising interest rates.

however, stock fell after releaseTogether Dow Jones Industrial Average It fell more than 500 points in the session as investors worried about the state of the economy and reports that the US could reach its borrowing limit earlier than expected.

At the same time a separate report from the Department of Commerce showed orders for manufactured goods It grew by 0.9% in March, well below estimates of 1.3%.

The level of job vacancies was the lowest since April 2021 and the ratio of open jobs to available workers cut to 1.6 to 1 after being nearly 2 to 1 in the previous two years.

“The Fed should find some relief from the gradual decline in the ratio, but it is likely to view this data tomorrow as confirmation of the need for another rate hike,” said Ronald Temple, chief market strategist at Lazard.

Quits, which are considered a measure of worker confidence in their ability to leave their jobs and find another, fell 129,000 to 3.85 million, the lowest level since May 2021, in what was dubbed the Great Resignation.

Rents were unchanged at 6.15 million for the month, while separations increased slightly.

The release came as the central bank began its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. Markets are giving almost 100% probability that the central bank will announce a rate hike of 0.25 per cent on Wednesday.

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