Job openings dropped below 10 million in February for the initial time in about two years

April 5, 2023: Job openings decreased below 10 million in February for the first time in two years, a sign that the Federal Reserve’s actions to slow the labour market may have some impact.

On Tuesday, Available positions totalled 9.93 million, a decrease of 632,000 from January’s downwardly stated number, the Labor Department reported in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Wall Street, which is for 10.4 million, according to FactSet.

It was the first-time vacancies fell below 10 million since May 2021.

The Fed has targeted the red-hot labour market to bring down inflation, which had been going at a 41-year high in 2022. The central bank has increased benchmark interest prices nine times since March of the previous year, but moves have had little impact on the jobs situation.

Before the February data, job openings outnumber available workers by nearly 2 to 1. The recent figures bring that ratio down to less than 1.7 to 1.

Treasury yields decreased following the release as the data helped dissuade the Fed from further price hikes. Stocks moved lower.

Though the amount runs a month behind, the Fed watches the JOLTS data nearing for signs of labour slack.

Hiring and separations also decreased slightly, along with the decline in job openings. Quits, a sign of labour confidence in the ability to switch jobs, increased by 146,000 to just over 4 million.

Professional and business services witnessed a slide of 278,000 job openings for this month, while trade, transferring, and utilities decreased by 210,000. Accommodation and food services, a significant sector to gauge consumer demand, decreased by 125,000.

On the positive side, 129,000 new construction jobs were available, though that was the only category that saw a noticeable bump.

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