Dec 10, 2020 - Economy

Job openings tick higher, but full recovery remains far off

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of job openings kept rising in October — though there’s still a whopping shortage for the number of unemployed, according to the Job Openings and Layover Turnover survey (JOLTS) out Wednesday.

The numbers: 6.7 million open jobs, but roughly 10.9 million people considered unemployed.

Why it matters: It’s a more granular look at the labor market improvement before the brakes were tapped in November. It also illustrates how far away the job market is from full recovery.

  • JOLTS is dated, but it offers more clues about the job market than the payrolls report.

What they're saying: "The improvement is good news but it is not good enough for the unemployed," Conrad DeQuadros, an economist at Brean Capital, wrote in a client note.

  • Some sectors are faring worse. Leisure and hospitality, for instance, has 0.2 job openings per unemployed person, DeQuadros notes.


  • Layoffs and discharges rose by 243,000. But that includes the 90,000+ temporary Census workers let go.
  • The hiring rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 4.1% — historically high, but a slowdown from the 5.4% rate when the economy reopened.
  • The quit rate held at 2.2%, the lowest since March 2018. (When this rises it’s a sign workers feel good enough about the labor market to quit their job.)
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