Job postings fell more than expected in March to their lowest level in nearly two years

by The Insights

An employee hiring sign with a QR code is seen in a window of a business in Arlington, Virginia on April 7, 2023.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Job postings fell further in March, hitting a nearly two-year low, a sign that the ultra-tight U.S. job market is easing and may be putting less pressure on inflation, it reported on Tuesday. the Department of Labor.

The department’s job vacancies and labor turnover survey showed vacancies totaled 9.59 million for the month, down from 9.97 million in February and below the estimate of FactSet of 9.64 million.

At the same time, layoffs and dismissals jumped by 248,000 to just over 1.8 million, bringing the rate as a share of the labor force to 1.2% from 1%.

Although the dataset is a month behind the nonfarm payroll count, the Federal Reserve is watching the JOLTS report closely for signs of a slowdown in the labor force. A lower number is positive for inflation because it indicates less pressure on wages and could ease pressure on the Fed to continue raising interest rates.

However, stocks fell after the release, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 500 points on the session as investors remained concerned about the state of the economy and news that the United States could reach its borrowing limit earlier than expected.

A separate Commerce Department report at the same time showed manufacturing orders rose 0.9% in March, less than the 1.3% estimate.

The level of job vacancies was the lowest total since April 2021 and reduced the ratio of open jobs to available workers to 1.6 to 1 after being around 2 to 1 for most of the past two years or so.

Quits, which are seen as a measure of workers’ confidence in their ability to quit their job and find another, fell by 129,000 to 3.85 million, the lowest level since May 2021 amid what had been dubbed the “great resignation”.

Hirings for the month remained unchanged at 6.15 million, while departures rose slightly.

The release comes as the Fed kicked off its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. Markets are assigning a nearly 100% chance that the central bank will announce an interest rate hike of 0.25 percentage points on Wednesday.

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