Job Openings Fall by 1.1 Million in August as Hot Market Sees Signs of Cooling

The number of job openings was 10.1 million on the last business day of August, a decrease of 1.1 million from 11.2 million in July. That’s according to a Tuesday release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This figure, which is below the 11.1 million FactSet estimate, is the first time since late last year that openings have come in below 11 million and suggests the job market is still strong but is slowing as interest rates rise.

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With an August unemployment rate of 3.7%, or 6 million people unemployed, the number of job openings is still outnumbering available workers by an almost 1.67-to-1 ratio, a sign that the tight labor market may be easing.

Overall, the U.S. economy added 315,000 jobs in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Notable gains were present across professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. Employment increased in general merchandise store, food and beverage stores, health and personal care stores, and building material and garden supply stores and decreased in furniture and home furnishings stores.

As for resignations, about 4.2 million people quit their jobs in August at a rate 2.7%, unchanged from July’s figure. Resignations increased in accommodation and food services by 119,000 but decreased in professional and business services by 94,000.

The total number of separations in August, which includes quits, layoffs and discharges, was 1.5 million at a rate of 1%, with little change from the month prior.

The jobs news comes one day after the United Nations (UN) issued a dire warning that the world is headed towards a global recession. According to a new report released on Monday by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), “excessive monetary tightening” and “inadequate financial support” could expose developing world economies further to cascading crises worse than the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009.

The UN’s report projects that world economic growth will slow to 2.5% in 2022 and drop to 2.2% in 2023 – a global slowdown that would leave GDP below its pre-COVID pandemic trend and cost the world more than $17 trillion in lost productivity.

“The global slowdown will further expose developing countries to a cascade of debt, health, and climate crises,” the reported said. “Middle-income countries in Latin America and low-income countries in Africa could suffer some of the sharpest slowdowns this year.”

Back at home, the Federal Reserve continues its push to tamp down inflation. Last month, the Fed raised interest rates by 0.75 points, marking its third consecutive hike. Rates now sit in a range between 3% and 3.25% and the committee anticipates additional increases moving forward, with a goal to return inflation to 2%.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said in remarks that the U.S. economy has slowed from its historically high growth rates of 2021, though the labor market has remained tight.

While inflation has begun to show signs of cooling, consumer prices increased 8.3% in August from a year ago, down from a 40-year high of 9.1% in June and 8.5% growth in July.

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