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JOLTs: Job Openings Trending Lower Before Virus Shutdowns

April 7, 2020

Bottom Line: After an unusually strong January, job openings were lower in February, confirming a modestly lower trend since early 2019. Hiring also slowed just slightly in the first two months of the year. While this is old news with the unprecedented economic hit starting in March from the shutdowns for the novel coronavirus, the trend was notable. Hires to job openings were ticking higher before the shutdowns, something that historically happens in recessions. Overall, employers were starting to slow hiring just slightly before the shutdowns, but they had steadily fewer job openings over the course of 2019. Job Openings FELL by 130k in February to 6.882 million, compared with market expectations for an increase to 6.500 million.

See jobless claims and employment report for more timely indicators.

Job Openings FELL by 130k in February to 6.882 million, compared with market expectations for an increase to 6.500 million.

Government job openings ROSE by 1k. Consequently, private-sector job openings FELL by 130k. Over the past 12 months, there were 166k more job openings , 2,225k more than the March 2007 pre-recession peak level.

Job Hires FELL by 29k in February to 5.896 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 193k more job hires , 427k above their November 2006 pre-recession peak level. Job Separations FELL by 143k in February to 5.560 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 116k more job separations.

The Hires to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.012 points from 0.845 to 0.857 and is modestly above its 12 month average of 0.825. The Number of Unemployed to Job openings ratio was nearly unchanged at 0.84 and is slightly above its 12 month average of 0.83. This ratio has been declining since its July 2009 peak of 6.7 amid some volatility.

Article by Contingent Macro Advisors