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First Cut: August Job openings and job opening rate lowest since March 2018

The number of job openings fell to 7.051 million in August, the lowest since 6.894 million March 2018. The rate dipped to 4.4%, also the lowest since 4.4% in March 2018.

The total number of hires slipped to 5.779 million in August from 5.978 million in July, but remained on trace for a solid performance. The rise of hires also remained on trend at 3.8%, down a tenth from the prior month.

Total separations were down to 5.638 million, unwinding much of the increase to 5.810 million in the prior month. The separations rate remained little changed at 3.7%.

There is little indication that even with some modest declines, labor market conditions are anything but tight.

Net turnover — hires less separations — were up 168,000 in August, in line with recent months. If on net turnover is lower, it is far from reflecting weak conditions.

The number of workers voluntarily leaving leaving jobs was down 142,000 to 3.526 million in August, not fully retracing the gain of 206,000 in the prior month. The rate was down a tenth to 2.3% from the record high of 2.4% in the prior month.

Overall, while the number of jobs open appears to be declining compared to last year, this is still a healthy level of available employment. Businesses are still hiring and layoffs are few. Workers feel confident about leaving one job for another, even when another job isn’t necessarily lined up. The Beveridge Curve — comparing the unemployment rate to the job openings rate — reflects continued tight labor market conditions.


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