Job openings may have peaked in the US

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey today showing a relatively minor decrease in job openings through November.

The number of job openings was little changed at 5.9 million on the last business day of November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.5 million and 5.2 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.2 percent and the layoffs and discharges rate was little changed 1.1 percent… 


The number of quits was little changed at 3.2 million in November. The quits rate was 2.2 percent. The number of quits was little changed for total private and increased for government…

While the month-to-month numbers were ordinary, the trend for the past few months is down.

November data showed openings at a 5.87 million level, down from this cycle’s peak of 6.17 million in July.

By way of comparison, last cycle, the peak in openings occurred in April of 2007, well after the peak in yearly non-farm payroll growth in March 2006.

This cycle, payroll growth peaked in February 2015. Given the steady fall in job openings to 300,000 below peak, it makes sense to wonder whether July 2017 will represent the peak in job openings. The worry is that, even with the unemployment rate at 4.1%, the labor market still isn’t that tight. A tight labor market should prompt some job-hopping. It’s not.


Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty five years of business experience. He has also been a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College.

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