by Olevia Sharbaugh Starkey, Economist at Dodge Construction Network
Total job openings in the United States released by The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the month of August came as a surprise in the face of what is commonly thought to be a slowing US economy. The month over month increase for total job openings in the nation was nearly 8%, representing a seasonally adjusted increase of 690,000 openings. This rise comes primarily from the Professional and Business Services sector with a whopping increase of 509,000 openings and the Finance and Insurance sector with an increase of 96,000 openings. In similar fashion, total hires, separations, and quits all increased in August, though much more modestly than openings. The only measure that decreased slightly was total layoffs and discharges.
The construction sector was one of the few to post a decline in job openings for the month. However, the decline was a scant 3,000 openings, which represents a decrease of less than 1% from last month’s revised estimate and is a 1% increase from August of 2022. Hiring, quits, and layoffs in the construction industry also decreased modestly. This points to continued moderation of labor demand in the construction industry and stands in slight contrast to the national increase in openings during the month. However, it is worth nothing that 9.6 million total job openings are below their 2022 high.
Though these numbers can be troubling when considering the Federal Reserve’s future decisions regarding interest rates, it is important to keep in mind that one month does not make a trend. Job openings as measured by BLS are rather volatile in nature and tend to be revised in the next release. In order to have a genuine impact on the macroeconomy, we would need to see this rising trend continue.
Data Source: https://www.bls.gov/jlt/