Shock and disappointment from the weak May jobs report lingers, but data today from the Bureau of Labor statistics offsets a bit of the uneasiness. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, aka JOLTS, shows that the number of job openings rose in April to a record high 5.79 million. Among private-sector employers, open positions rose to a record 5.29 million. Those results suggest that despite the slow pace of hiring in May, employers are planning on additional hiring in coming months. Combined with the continuing low level of initial claims for unemployment insurance (new data will be out tomorrow), the data imply a still-healthy labor market.
Possible confirmation of the state of the labor market may be the gain in consumer credit in April. Consumer credit rose 4.5 percent for the month. Among the components, revolving credit, typically credit cards, rose 2.1 percent while non-revolving credit, mostly auto loans and student loans, rose 5.4 percent. Willingness to expand credit use may be a sign that consumers remain confident in their personal financial situations. A second confirmation may come from the Conference Board consumer confidence survey due out later this month. The survey asks several questions regarding respondents’ view of the labor market. Trends for these have been improving recently and further gains here would be more evidence that the weak May jobs report was an anomaly and not the beginning of a serious deterioration in labor market conditions.
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