US employers are still scrambling to fill vacancies, report says

Job openings in the United States and number of workers leaving their jobs remained close to the records in January, an indicator of la...


Job openings in the United States and number of workers leaving their jobs remained close to the records in January, an indicator of labor demand and worker indebtedness.

data, published by the Ministry of Labor Wednesday as part of its monthly Job Openings and Job Rotation Survey, or JOLTS report, is another sign of an economy that faltered slightly but remained strong in the face of the Omicron wave of the coronavirus this winter.

Job postings fell to 11.3 million, down slightly from the December record, but are still up about 61% from February 2020.

A potential sign of the impact of the spread of the variant, several industries that rebounded from the pandemic and were most hungry for workers reported fewer job openings. Accommodation and food services saw a drop of 288,000. Transportation, warehousing and utilities reported 132,000 fewer openings. But openings continue to increase both in the manufacturing sector and in the services sector in general.

Some 4.3 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in January, down slightly from the 4.5 million who quit in November, a record high. Although layoffs rose slightly in January, they are still above historic lows.

The share of Americans in their prime working years — ages 25 to 54 — who are working or looking for work fell in 2020, but recovered to a rate of 79.5%, less than 1 point from percentage of pre-pandemic levels, a much faster rebound than after the last downturn.

The current environment is likely to raise the price of labor – a welcome development for workers who have faced stagnant wages and disempowerment for decades, and troubling for employers, as high inflation increases the cost of doing business.

Some executives and business executives have expressed concern — in corporate earnings and in private calls — that “wage inflation” could set in and squeeze profits if the rapid wage gains workers have won l year does not decrease.

“When it comes to their business, they’re very concerned about it: what does it mean for their future margins, what kind of pricing power do they have?” said Steve Wyett, chief investment strategist at BOK Financial, a regional bank based in Oklahoma, where unemployment is particularly low at 2.8%. “How can we protect ourselves against this?”

The data of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that workers who leave to take other jobs receive larger wage increases than those who stay, although much of this movement occurs in low-wage sectors.

After the Labor Department’s jobs survey showed strong pay rises in January, hourly wages were almost stable in February. And while wage gains remain solid, they remain far from runaway levels.

Fed data shows that median annual wage increases in the US labor market are well within the range – 3 to 7% – that prevailed from the 1980s until the 2007-2009 recession.

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Newsrust - US Top News: US employers are still scrambling to fill vacancies, report says
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