JOLTS job openings May 2022:
People walk past a “Now Hiring” sign posted outside of a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia on June 3, 2022.
Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images
Job openings fell sharply in May but still far outnumbered the level of people looking for work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.
Available positions totaled 11.25 million for the month, a considerable drop from the upwardly revised 11.68 million in April. As a share of the labor force, the rate of vacancies fell to 6.9% from 7.2%, according to the bureau’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
Despite the decline, the level of job openings was better than the 11.04 million estimate from FactSet.
There were 5.95 million people counted as unemployed in the month, meaning there were 1.9 openings per every available worker, still around historical highs.
Quits also declined slightly, falling to 4.27 million as the so-called Great Resignation abated. The level of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs has soared in the Covid era, a sign of enhanced mobility during a time of extreme labor shortages.
Federal Reserve officials watch the JOLTS report closely for signs of labor market slack. The US unemployment rate in May was 3.6%, just above where it was prior to the pandemic. However, there are 440,000 fewer Americans at work now than there were in February 2020.
Layoffs nudged higher during the month to 1.39 million after hitting a series low in April from data going back to December 2000.
Job openings declined sharply in manufacturing and professional and business services while increasing in retail trade and leisure and hospitality.
Markets will get a more up-to-date view of the labor market Friday when the BLS releases the monthly nonfarm payrolls report. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect growth of 250,000 jobs and an unchanged unemployment rate.
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