US job openings fell in November to still-strong 6.9 million

U.S. job openings fell in November from the previous month, but the number of available positions remained healthy.

Job openings slipped 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted 6.9 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That is the fewest openings in five months, but still 16 percent higher than a year ago.

The job market remains strong despite sharp stock market declines last month, interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve and a slowing global economy that is also bedeviled by trade fights. Last week’s blockbuster jobs report helped assuage concerns about the economy, as it showed that hiring reached a 10-month high in December.

The number of open jobs is still higher than the number of unemployed, a switch that occurred in March for the first time in the nearly 20 years that the government has tracked job openings. There were 6 million people were out of work in November.

That suggests employers are desperate to hire, a trend that appears to be finally pushing up wages. Average hourly pay rose 3.2 percent in December from a year earlier, Friday’s jobs report showed, matching the best yearly gain since the recession.

The number of people quitting fell in November, the report showed, but the total also stayed at a solid level. Quits are typically seen as a positive sign, because most people quit for another job, usually for higher pay.

More quits can also raise pressure on employers to pay more in order to keep their workers. Quits dropped 3.2 percent in November to 3.4 million. That is still 6.6 percent higher than a year ago.

Overall hiring slid to 5.7 million from 5.9 million, slightly disappointing to some economists. That is a gross figure, while December’s hiring announced on Friday — 312,000 jobs — is a net figure.

“There are some signs of a modest deceleration amid a very strong labor market,” Steven Wood, senior economic adviser at Contingent Macro Research, said in a research note.

The biggest declines in openings were in construction and professional and business services, a category that includes higher-paying occupations such as engineers, accountants and architects. Retailers also posted fewer open jobs in November than the previous month, likely reflecting that many stores started hiring for the holidays earlier than in the past.

Government job openings were mostly unchanged. The November report pre-dates the government shutdown.

Always be informed. Get the latest news and information delivered to your inbox

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
SHARE
Previous articleLocal firm says it has license to study medical marijuana
Next articlePrincess Anne library in Virginia Beach closing — but programming will go on
John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.