March 9, 2022 Reading Time: 3 minutes

The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the total number of job openings in the economy fell to 11.263 million in January, down from 11.448 million in December. The number of open positions in the private sector decreased to 10.234 million in January, down 109,000 from a record-high 10.343 million in December (see first chart).

The total job openings rate, openings divided by the sum of jobs plus openings, dropped to 7.0 percent in January from 7.1 percent in December while the private-sector job-openings rate fell to 7.4 percent from a record-high 7.5 percent (see first chart).

Two industry categories have more than 2.0 million openings each: education and health care (2.129 million) and professional and business services (2.065 million). Trade, transportation, and utilities (1.834 million), and Leisure and hospitality (1.497 million) are both above 1 million.

The highest openings rates were in leisure and hospitality (9.9 percent), professional and business services (8.6 percent), education and health care (8.2 percent), manufacturing (6.4 percent), and transportation, and utilities, trade (6.1 percent) are all above the pre-lockdown-recession private-sector peak of 5.1 percent (see second chart). Among the private-sector industry groups, only construction (4.8 percent) is below 5.1 percent.

The number of private-sector quits fell for a second consecutive month, coming in at 4.025 million, down from 4.164 million in December and a record-high 4.266 million in November (see third chart). Trade, transportation, and utilities led with 1.005 million quits followed by leisure and hospitality with 856,000 quits, and professional and business services with 697,000.

The total quits rate fell to 2.8 percent for the month, down from 3.0 percent in the prior month while the private-sector quits rate fell to 3.2 percent versus 3.3 percent in December and a record-high 3.4 percent in November (see third chart). The quits rates among the private-sector industry groups are still dominated by leisure and hospitality with a rate of 5.6 percent, well ahead of the number two, trade transportation, and utilities, with a 3.6 percent rate, and number three, professional and business services, with a 3.2 percent quits rate. All the major groups within the private sector have a quits rate above the average over 2001 through 2019 except for construction (see fourth chart).

The number of job seekers (unemployed plus those not in the labor force but who want a job) per opening fell to 1.094 in January, a new record low. Prior to the lockdown recession, the low was 1.409 in October 2019 (see fifth chart).

Today’s job openings data continue to suggest a very tight labor market. The tight labor market is leading to significant turnover among employees and contributing to the headwinds facing businesses as they try to boost production. Compounding the difficulties are the surging disruptions to capital and commodity markets and the global economy due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed by supporters of the Ukraine people and government.

Robert Hughes

Bob Hughes

Robert Hughes joined AIER in 2013 following more than 25 years in economic and financial markets research on Wall Street. Bob was formerly the head of Global Equity Strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, where he developed equity investment strategy combining top-down macro analysis with bottom-up fundamentals. Prior to BBH, Bob was a Senior Equity Strategist for State Street Global Markets, Senior Economic Strategist with Prudential Equity Group and Senior Economist and Financial Markets Analyst for Citicorp Investment Services. Bob has a MA in economics from Fordham University and a BS in business from Lehigh University.

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