Job market still strong but losing momentum
According to the Associated Press, U.S. job openings fell in March to the lowest level in nearly two years, a sign that the American labor market is cooling in the face of higher interest rates.
Employers posted 9.6 million vacancies in March, down from nearly 10 million in February and the lowest since April 2021. The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, out Tuesday, showed that layoffs rose to 1.8 million, the highest level since December 2020.
The number of Americans quitting their jobs — a sign they have confidence they can find better pay or working conditions elsewhere — dropped to 3.9 million, the lowest since May 2021.
The job market is cooling but remains strong by historic standards. Monthly job openings had never exceeded 10 million until 2021, then continued 20 straight months above that threshold. The streak ended in February.
The Labor Department will release the jobs report for the last month on Friday. Forecasters surveyed by the data firm FactSet expect that employers added fewer than 182,000 jobs in April, which would be the third straight monthly drop since payrolls rose by a robust 472,000 in January.
The unemployment rate is expected to increase to 3.6% in April, a couple of notches above January’s half-century low of 3.4%.