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US Job Openings Fall to 8.1 Million, Lowest Since 2021, but Remain at Historically High Levels

U.S. job openings fell in April to the lowest level since 2021. But they remained at historically strong levels despite high interest rates and signs the economy is slowing.

The Labor Department reported that employers posted 8.1 million vacancies in April, down from a revised 8.4 million in March. The March figures had originally come in at 8.5 million.

Still, layoffs fell, and the number of Americans quitting their jobs — a sign of confidence in their prospects — rose in April.

Monthly job openings have come down steadily from a peak of 12.2 million in March 2022 — as the economy’s recovery from COVID-19 lockdowns left companies desperate for workers — but they remain at a high level. Before 2021, they never topped 8 million — a threshold they have now reached for 38 straight months.

The high level of job openings reflects a surprisingly strong U.S. labor market. When the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in March 2022 to combat a resurgence in inflation, the higher borrowing costs were expected to tip the economy into recession and push up unemployment.

Instead, the economy kept growing and employers continued to hire. The United States has averaged a solid 234,000 new jobs a month over the last year. The Labor Department reported that employers added another 272,000 jobs in May.

“Overall, job openings are still elevated, signaling strong demand for workers,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “But they continue to move in the right direction, towards pre-pandemic readings, pointing to an ongoing normalization between supply and demand for labor.”

Source: Associated Press

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