Job Openings Shrink in February

Tue, Apr 9, 2019 - 10:14am

Originally published at The Boock Report

The number of job openings in February totaled almost 7.1 million, a still robust number of needed workers but down from 7.6 million in January, almost 500,000 less than expected and the least amount of availability since March 2018.

Hiring dropped by 133,000 and is down for the third month in the past four and brought the hiring rate down by one tenth to 3.8 percent. The quit rate held at 2.3 percent, the best in this expansion as the number of quitters was little changed.

The notable area of decline in the number of job openings was in the trade and transport sector. Anyone that has seen the overseas economic data and the U.S. manufacturing news along with the decline in March hiring in this sector can understand why. There was also a reduction in the need for employees in the ‘financial activities’ sector where ‘finance and insurance’ and ‘real estate/rental/leasing’ saw declines. On the latter, they don’t separate what is residential and what is commercial. In what is more likely a temporary decline in job openings, health care/social assistance saw less of a need for workers.

Finally, there was a fall in job openings for ‘leisure & hospitality’, almost solely due to a drop in ‘accommodation’ and ‘food services.’ With this sector, take note because last week the National Association of Credit Management in its monthly Credit Managers Index said “The consumer is spending far less on things like entertainment and restaurant meals.”

Bottom line, we heard in the March NFIB small business report that it’s still tough to find new workers but today’s February figure on job openings is the first sign that maybe the demand for labor is taking a breather. In particular, there is clear slowing in manufacturing and trade and by extension transportation and that was apparent in today’s in report.

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