Jan 21, 2020

Two big takeaways from the JOLTS report

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Expand chart
Data: BLS via Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

There were two themes that persisted in November's U.S. job openings and labor turnover survey (JOLTS) released on Friday — the stubborn quits rate and the consistent decline in the number of job openings.

The big picture: Job openings fell by 561,000 to 6.8 million, the Labor Department said, the biggest drop since August 2015. That pushed the number of job openings to the lowest level since February 2018.

  • The number of job openings in the U.S. peaked in November 2018 and has fallen almost every month since, with the pace of the decline picking up steam toward the end of the year.

On the other side: After rising near a record high in July and August, touching 2.4%, the quits rate has fallen back and again looks stuck at 2.3%. The percentage of people who willingly leave a job is a positive sign of economic momentum and confidence.

  • The quits rate stayed at 2.3% from June 2018 to June 2019, the longest streak on record.
  • It hit 2.5% in January 2001 and has not been able to reach that number since.

Go deeper: Unemployment fell to 50-year low in 2019 but wages stagnated

Go deeper

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.