Job openings in the U.S. slid lower in October, indicating that demand for labor has eased slightly.
Employers had 10.3 million open positions listed at the end of October, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed Wednesday. The median estimate in an Econoday survey of economists called for a decline to about 10.5 million.
Last month, the JOLTS report startled market analysts and Federal Reserve officials by showing openings rose by 10.7 million from a revised 10.3 million a month earlier. Fed officials have said that reducing job vacancies could be a key path to cooling inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy.
For nearly a year now, job vacancies have vastly outnumbered the total number of unemployed workers. Historically, the ratio of vacancies to unemployed workers was about one-to-one. In the tight labor market prior to the pandemic, there were 1.2 vacancies for every unemployed person. The labor market exceeded that level in the summer of 2021 and the ratio peaked at two-to-one in March. After declining to 1.7 to one in August, it shot back up to 1.9 to one after September’s stronger-than-expected figure.
Fed officials believe this persistent imbalance between labor supply and demand drives wage growth that could further entrench inflationary pressures in the economy.
Another measure of tightness in the labor market, the number of people quitting their job, was little changed at four million, the JOLTS report said. In the information technology sector, where there have been many reported layoffs, quits were down by 29,000.
Despite headlines about layoffs in the technology sector, layoffs were unchanged at 1.4 million, or 0.9 percent of the workforce. That is considered an extremely low level.
Six million workers were hired in October, little changed from the prior month.