U.S. job openings hit two-year low in February


The JOLTS Market Report – Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary – shows that job openings fell to 9.9 million on the last full business day of February. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License picture

April 4 (UPI) — The U.S. economy could cool as federal data on Tuesday showed job openings fell dramatically in February to their lowest level in two years.

Summary of vacancies and labor turnover, or JOLTS reportshowed that job vacancies fell to 9.9 million on the last full working day of February.

More people quit their jobs – about 4 million people – than were laid off or made redundant, or 1.5 million.

Most of the job losses came from professional and business services. In terms of size, small businesses saw little change in job postings and new hires, although layoffs declined. Large companies saw “little change in their rate of hiring and total rate of departures while the rate of job creation declined,” the government explained.

OPEC’s decision to cut crude oil production from May, concerns about the health of the global financial sector and aggressive rate hikes by global central banks are raising fears of a repeat of the so-called Great Recession of 2007-08.

Jeffrey Roach, chief economist at LPL Financial in San Diego, told CNBC recent employment trends may prompt the Fed to suspend rate hikes, but only if weakness persists.

“The labor market is starting to ease as the number of job vacancies has fallen in most sectors,” he said. “As the economy slows, businesses will likely reduce openings and workers will be less likely to quit in search of better hours and higher pay.”

While February data like the number of people leaving jobs offers an indication of broader economic health, more recent data shows that job losses remain static. Data from March show that job losses were only about 1,000 and the less volatile four-week moving average was down only about 250.

New data on non-farm payrolls are released on Friday.

Stock indices were in the red on Tuesday. The Dow Jones was down 0.63%, while the S&P 500 traded down 0.54% at 11:30 a.m. EDT. The tech-heavy NASDAQ fell 0.5%.

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