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Job Openings Remain Elevated at 10.9 Million While Fewer People Quit Their Jobs in December

U.S. News & World Report 2/1/2022 Tim Smart
PORTLAND, ME - APRIL 15: Waitress Millie Norton checks an order clipped to a clothespin between her and the line cooks during breakfast service at Beckys Diner in Portland on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Norton was working a position called The Expeditor, created when the diner reopened for service during the pandemic to alleviate waitress crowding in the area. The wait staff rotates through the position, which ensures orders are plated correctly, makes toast and adds condiments to the plates. (Staff photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images) © (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images) PORTLAND, ME - APRIL 15: Waitress Millie Norton checks an order clipped to a clothespin between her and the line cooks during breakfast service at Beckys Diner in Portland on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Norton was working a position called The Expeditor, created when the diner reopened for service during the pandemic to alleviate waitress crowding in the area. The wait staff rotates through the position, which ensures orders are plated correctly, makes toast and adds condiments to the plates. (Staff photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

The number of job openings remained historically high at the end of the year at 10.9 million, though fewer people chose to leave their jobs, the Labor Department reported on Tuesday.

Openings increased the most in accommodation and food services, up 133,000, as well as in information, with an increase of 40,000. Nondurable-goods manufacturing and state and local government education were both up by 31,000.

The number of people leaving their jobs dropped to 4.3 million, following a record 4.5 million in November, further complicating efforts by companies to maintain their workforces.

“With the openings out there, a lot of people are moving around,” says Rucha Vankudre, senior economist at global labor market data firm Emsi Burning Glass. She also notes that with the increase in remote work, local companies are finding they have to compete for talent on a nationwide basis.

Economists expect the economy to cool off in 2022 from its torrid 2021 pace and along with it the job market to return to a more normal rate of growth. That has already occurred with monthly job growth in the final three months of last year averaging 365,000, down from more than 500,000 in the middle months of the year.


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The Federal Reserve is likely to play a lead role in slowing the economy, as it has indicated it will begin raising interest rates as early as March to combat rising inflation, now running at an annual pace of 7% and well above the Fed’s stated inflation target of a 2% average.

Contributing to that rise in inflation are wage increases, which overall are running about 4% yet in some industries such as leisure and hospitality are averaging more than double that.

On Tuesday, Paychex released its Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch for January showing employment growth among its clients 7.8% over the past year. Year-over-year hourly earnings grew 4.43%, meanwhile.

“The pace of small business job growth continued to grow in January, reaching a new record high powered by the return to work in leisure and hospitality,” said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Markit.

On Wednesday, private payroll firm ADP will release its monthly survey of jobs, which last month came in at 807,000. Then on Friday, the Labor Department issues its monthly jobs report for January, the first take on labor market conditions for 2022. Some economists actually are forecasting a loss of jobs for the month because of omicron following the 199,000 jobs added in December.

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