The U.S. labor market saw 10.8 million job openings in January, according to Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report released on Wednesday. While this is a decrease of 11.2 million the month prior, the number is still considered higher than expected.
The report indicates that there have been 1.9 job openings for every unemployed American in the first month of 2023. Experts believe that this will prompt Federal Reserve to consider job market conditions “too hot” for their efforts to fight inflation, causing further interest rate hikes in an attempt to produce a “cool down” effect.
“The decline in job openings does not indicate any meaningful improvement in the balance between labor demand and labor supply from the perspective of the Fed,” Conrad DeQuadros, senior economic advisor at Brean Capital, told Reuters.
The labor demand continues to hit new historic highs. The 10.8 million job openings in January mean that there have been 20 straight months in which there were at least 10 million jobs available. This hasn’t happened since Labor Department started tracking data in 2000. Also, unemployment in the U.S. in January was the lowest since 1969 at 3.4%.
The Fed will probably see some positives in the JOLTS report, like the fact that the rate of layoffs increased, especially in the tech industry. Also, there have been fewer people willingly quitting their jobs, with 3.9 million being the fewest since May 2011.