The number of jobs available in the United States rose in September, surprising economists who expected the total to fall amid aggressive action by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy.
Job postings totaled 10.7 million, down from a revised 10.3 million in August, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Tuesday.
Economists had expected job openings to fall to 10 million in September, according to Refinitiv estimates.
Accommodation and food services saw the most new jobs, along with health care and social assistance; and transportation, warehousing and utilities, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS.
There were about 1.9 vacancies for every person looking for work in September, down from 1.7 in August. This ratio has grown in importance as the Fed attempts to reduce stubbornly high inflation. When jobs are plentiful and workers are scarce, employees have leverage to demand higher wages, which puts upward pressure on inflation.
Layoffs fell to 1.3 million last month, from a revised 1.5 million in August.
“If you’ve been waiting for signs of slowing labor inflation, you’ll have to keep waiting,” Lightcast senior economist Ron Hetrick said in a statement.
However, despite the high figure, the JOLTS report also showed signs of a slowdown in the labor market: hirings fell to just under 6.1 million, their lowest level since February 2021; and dropouts fell to less than 4.1 million, the second-lowest level seen all year.
The number of jobs advertised on US websites is steadily declining and the gap between labor supply and demand is narrowing, said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.
“Make no mistake about it, the job market is cooling,” she said in an interview with CNN Business.
While the monthly numbers may show some volatility, particularly in openings, overall trends show a decline in openings, hirings and quits, Pollak said.
“It will never be a straight line,” she said. “This particular series is more of a zigzag.”
The global pandemic has led to the loss of more than 20 million jobs, a recovery affected by virus surges and health and safety precautions, a wave of early retirements and the disruption of essential support industries which has prevented some people from returning to the labor market.
That means the labor market still exhibits unique dynamics following this once-in-a-lifetime event, Pollak said.
Additionally, the latest JOLTS report shows the story of two emerging labor markets, she said, noting that industries such as healthcare continue to thrive, while rate-sensitive industries such as finance and insurance have seen job vacancies drop significantly in recent months.
Still, Tuesday’s report doesn’t provide enough certainty to assure the Fed that the labor market is easing enough to ease inflation fears, said Raymond James chief economist Eugenio Aleman.
“While today’s increase [in job openings] doesn’t make up for last month’s drop of 890,000, this indicates that the labor market is still very tight, and that’s bad news for the Federal Reserve and bad news for inflation,” he said in a statement. communicated. “Therefore, we continue to believe the Fed will raise rates by 75 basis points on Wednesday. [Federal Open Market Committee] Meet.”
Investors — and Fed officials — will then turn to Friday’s closely watched monthly jobs report, which is expected to show a continued slowdown, falling to around 200,000 jobs added in October, down from 420,000. jobs that the economy has added on average each month. so far this year.