The number of job openings fell by 605,000 in June, as the economy slowed and higher interest rates began to take hold, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday.
At 10.7 million, the level is still elevated but off the 11 million range it has been stuck in for months. The largest decreases came in the retail sector (down 343,000), wholesale trade (which fell 82,000), and in state and local government education (off by 62,000).
The number of layoffs and people quitting their jobs for another position were largely unchanged, meaning that employers have begun cutting back on their job postings.
Economists are watching the labor market to see whether the slowing economy and moves by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates are having any effect. Already, there has been some modest increase in the number of persons filing for unemployment benefits. Friday will bring the monthly jobs report for July with estimates that the number of new positions created could be down from the 372,000 recorded in June, perhaps to a level of about 250,000.
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The Fed has indicated it is prepared to see the labor market cool off as it tackles inflation that has been running at a 9% annual clip. A variety of factors, including an aging population that has led to above-trend retirements, restrictive immigration policies and a declining birthrate, have contributed to a tight labor market along with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. That has led many analysts to say the job market will remain strong by historical standards even if the economy continues to soften.
“The highlight of the week is Friday’s July nonfarm employment report where we look for job gains to continue to moderate from elevated levels recorded earlier this year,” Wells Fargo economists wrote ahead of the report. “Our call of 215K jobs is below the consensus estimate of 250K and substantially lower than June’s 372K gain. Incoming data continues to soften and suggests that labor market growth is slowing materially from strong levels.”
“Notably, initial jobless claims have steadily risen in recent weeks and now stand above 250K,” the economists added. “Employment indices from a variety of business surveys have clearly deteriorated, though they have not fully collapsed.”