Job Openings Fell Sharply in November as New Jobs Dipped

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights:

  • Job openings at the end of November PLUNGED 7.6 percent to 6.8 million;
  • Hiring in November ROSE 0.7 percent from October to 5.82 million
  • The ratio of job openings per unemployed FELL to 1.17 in November from 1.26 in October

Trends:

  • Job openings dropped in November to the lowest level since February 2018: 6.53 million
  • Number of job openings was down year-year for the sixth straight month for the first time since the end of 2009
  • November hires represented 79.1 percent of end-of-October job openings, weakest percentage since May/June 2019;
  • Job openings per unemployed fell to the lowest level since March

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Image result for job openings

Despite a strong November jobs report, there were more warnings about the job market Friday in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report.

Employers managed to add 145,000 new jobs in November even though job openings fell to their lowest level in 21 months. And employers managed to fill almost 80 percent of those openings. Still the hiring record for 2019 looks blotchy. The month-month change in the number of hires has been negative in six of the first 11 months of 2019, compared with just two negative months in 2018.

Still, the projected number of hires for all of 2019 is on track to exceed 2018 hires by 1.5 percent, though the number of separations is also on course to exceed 2018.

And, the ratio of job openings per unemployed, a key measure of employment though well-below Great Recession levels, fell for the first time in four months hinting that getting a job from unemployment is becoming more challenging. That conclusion is borne out by the consistent growth of the four-week moving average of continued unemployment insurance claims.

That ratio fell in several key industry sectors dimming the outlook for growth in trade, manufacturing, and transportation – although the last may be seasonal. The number of job openings in the leisure and hospitality sector fell sharply in November ahead of a seasonal hiring spurt.

Despite slight dips, the number of job openings remained strong in construction, manufacturing and information sectors with an even stronger outlook for transportation, financial activities and traded where the number of job openings rose.

You can hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S Morning Briefing (Sirius 124) every Friday at 6:20 am Eastern Time. Follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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