Hiring hits Record in April

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights:

  • Hiring in April ROSE to a record high 5.94 million, an increase of 4.2 percent over March;
  • Job Openings at the end of April SKIDDED 0.3 percent (25,000) to 7.45 million;
  • The ratio of job openings per unemployed ROSE to 1.28 in April from 1.20 in March.

Trends:

  • Job openings exceeded unemployed for the 14th month in a row;
  • The month-month percentage increase in hires was the largest since February 2016 (5.4 percent);
  • The ratio of “quits” to layoffs and discharges remained at 2:1 signaling continued confidence in the labor market.

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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In all of 2018, the number of job openings declined month-month only three times yet with only four months of data in 2019, we’ve already seen two dips.

Time to push a panic button? Probably not, but there are some warning signs tucked away in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for April, the same month in which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported payroll jobs grew 263,000, later revised down to 224,000.

In addition to the two month-month declines in job openings (February 483,000 or 6.3 percent) and April 25,000 (0.3 percent) only the manufacturing sector showed an increase in the number of unemployed per job opening, suggesting the skills mismatch between job-seekers and openings continues.

That openings are declining could suggest an increase to the ongoing, record length expansion. That should increase pressure of the Federal Open Market Committee to at least consider cutting interest rates when it meets later this month. In strict economic terms though that could exacerbate the tight job market bring the cost of capital down while increasing the cost of labor.

The strongest part of the JOLTS report was the month-month increase in the number of “quits” as the number of layoffs/discharges declined month-month. Year-to-date, the number of layoffs for the first four months of 2019 is almost 3 percent below 2018.

According to the April JOLTS report, the economy is on a pace for 69.5 million hires in 2019, up slightly from 68.9 million in 2018.

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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