U.S. employers pulled back sharply on job openings, while layoffs rose in August, adding to signs the labor market and overall economy are cooling.
Employers’ total job openings fell 10% in August to a seasonally adjusted 10.1 million from 11.2 million the month before, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The 1.1-million drop in openings is the largest decline since the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, leaving job openings at their lowest level in a year.
Openings dropped the most in healthcare, retail, and other services industries. The decline in openings coincided with an August easing of job growth employers added 315,000 jobs that month, compared with 526,000 jobs in July. The figures reflect a labor market that is still strong overall but lost some steam in August after recovering rapidly from the effects of the pandemic.
The labor market is cooling a bit from the extremes we saw coming out of the pandemic said Steven Stanley, Chief Economist at broker-dealer Amherst Pierpont. The 10 point 1 million job openings in August far exceeded the 6 million unemployed people looking for work. The openings also remained well above their pre-pandemic level and 2019 when they average 7.2 million.