Feb 1, 2023 - Economy & Business

Job openings jumped in December

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Job openings rose in December, while layoffs edged up only slightly, the Labor Department said on Wednesday — the latest sign employers are eager for workers.

By the numbers: There were 11 million vacancies in the final month of 2022, up from 10.4 million in November. Meanwhile, there were 1.5 million layoffs — slightly higher from the 1.4 million the prior month, though still historically low.

Why it matters: The labor market is still tight with only modest signs of loosening up. Despite a steady stream of layoff announcements in sectors like technology, there are still more job postings than workers available to fill them.

  • The data is closely watched by the Federal Reserve, which sees the elevated number of open jobs as proof that the labor market is out of whack.
  • Fed officials have raised concerns that a too-tight labor — as signaled in part by high job openings — might complicate efforts to stamp out inflation.

Of note: There are signs that the labor market has cooled off. For one, the number of quits has come down, though it's still elevated relative to pre-pandemic times. In other words, workers still feel confident enough about the jobs market to leave their current gig — though perhaps less so than 2021.

  • In December, roughly 4.1 million workers quit their jobs — down from the all-time high of 4.5 million in November of 2021.

Signs of weakness in tech were apparent in the report: the rate of job openings in the information sector fell to 3.4% from 6.6% in December.

What to watch: New data from ADP points to a notable slowing in private sector hiring last month, adding just 106,000 jobs last month — far fewer than the estimated 190,000.

  • Yes, but: The report isn't a perfect indicator of what's to come in the official government jobs report. Plus, ADP said the slowdown had less to do with factors that suggest a big shift in hiring patterns and more to do with extreme weather last month that disrupted employment in sectors like construction.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show job openings rose in December, not last month.

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