USA job openings rise 5% in December to near record high

Wednesday, 10 Feb, 2016

The number of Americans hired and the total quitting jobs both surged to nine-year highs in December, reflecting a more dynamic labor market that's starting to push up wages.

There were 5.6 million job openings in December 2015, up from 5.43 million job openings in November, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) report.

Some 3.06 million people quit their jobs in December, up from the prior month's 2.86 million.

Since job openings are back to pre-recession levels, Naroff thinks employees are going to have to work harder to attract new workers, and pay more to remain competitive.

This comes the unemployment rate fell to an eight year low in January to 4.9%, despite less than expected new hiring. That effort cut growth by 0.5 percentage points in the last three months of 2015, a period in which the economy grew at a weak 0.7 percent annual rate.

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The JOLTS report is generally one of Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen's favourite data series. "This quits rate is a sign of stronger wage inflation" to come.

Falling inventories are a drag on economic growth.

"As fate would have it, the job market may be feeling healthy, just as the rest of the economy is downshifting", said Joe LaVorgna, chief US economist at Deutsche Bank. "This makes sense because presumably workers would not be quitting their jobs unless they had better income prospects elsewhere".

Each month the Department of Labor calculates the number of jobs available in the United States. "We expect that wage growth will continue to move up gradually, helping core inflation return toward target once the headwinds from lower import prices subside", said Barclays's Jesse Hurwitz.

The bureau reported that within separations, the quits rate was 2.1%, and the layoffs and discharges rate was 1.1% This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the non-farm sector by industry and by four geographic regions.