Job openings jump in December as labor market stays strong

A construction worker passes a hiring announcement sign at the site of a building being constructed, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Job openings increased to 11 million in December from 10.4 million in November for an increase of 5.5 percent as the U.S. labor market continues to show signs of strength even as concerns about a recession loom.

The data released Wednesday by the Labor Department brings the number of unemployed persons per job opening down to 0.5 in December from 0.6 in November, indicating resilience in both the job market and in the economy as a whole.

The largest increases in job openings last month occurred in the accommodation and food service sector, which posted 409,000 new positions, and the retail sector, which had 134,000 new positions, according to the Labor Department.

The construction sector added 82,000 openings in December, while the tech sector lost 107,000 jobs amid widespread layoffs from many well-known companies.

The number of new hirings across the economy stayed about the same from November to December at 6.2 million and a rate of 4 percent, the Labor Department said.

Workers left their jobs in December at about the same rate as the previous month, with separations increasing fractionally from 5.83 million to 5.89 million.

The quits rate stayed even at 2.7 percent on the month, with the number of quits decreasing in the transportation and warehousing sector by 69,000 and increasing in the service sector by 65,000.

The unemployment rate is now at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent, though the Federal Reserve is projecting that rate to increase to 4.6 percent during 2023.

Around 50 million Americans quit their jobs in 2022, compared to 42 million in 2019 prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Great Resignation continued into the end of the year.

Labor costs grew at their slowest pace in a year, ticking up by 1 percent in December, according to the Employment Cost Index released by the Labor Department on Tuesday. The increase was 0.2 percentage points lower than its last reading in September and shy of analysts’ expectations.

Tags job openings labor market unemployment

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