Job Openings in U.S. Declined in November to a Six-Month Low

U.S. job openings unexpectedly fell in November to a six-month low, though the level is still consistent with an improving labor market, Labor Department data showed Tuesday.

Number of positions waiting to be filled dropped by 46k to 5.88m (est. 6.03m) from a downwardly revised 5.93m in Oct.: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS
Layoffs were little changed at 1.69m
3.17m Americans quit their jobs, down from 3.19m in Oct.; quits rate held at 2.2%
Key Takeaways
Even with the decline in November, the number of openings remains elevated, showing a high level of untapped demand for labor, as employers struggle to find skilled and experienced workers. There were a record 6.18 million openings in September. Last week’s December jobs report pointed to an economy at full employment, with the jobless rate holding at the lowest level since 2000.

Industries including manufacturing, business services and transportation and warehousing had fewer openings than in October, while available positions increased in construction and retail, the JOLTS report showed.

A big question for 2018 is whether employers will get more aggressive with pay increases to lure talent and fill positions. According to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, anecdotal reports suggest that in lieu of bigger pay packages, some companies are offering non-wage benefits and office perks.

Other Details
There were 1.1 unemployed people vying for every opening in November, compared with 1.9 people when the recession began at the end of 2007
In the 12 months through November, the economy created a net 2.1 million jobs, representing 64.6 million hires and 62.4 million separations
Number of hires fell to 5.49 million in November from 5.59 million
Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring
Source: Bloomberg