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Professional and Business Services Sector Leads Job Openings Surge

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The number of job openings in the United States leaped 5.8% during August, reaching 9.6 million at the end of the month.

At the same time, the numbers of hires and separations were little changed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said in a Tuesday (Oct. 3) press release.

Most of the new job openings were in professional and business services, according to the release. That sector added 509,000 job openings during August, while finance and insurance added 96,000, state and local government education added 76,000, nondurable goods manufacturing added 59,000 and the federal government added 31,000.

The surge of job openings in August was unexpected, underscoring the ongoing strength of labor demand in the country, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

The number of available job positions surpassed all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists, rising from a revised 8.92 million in July, according to the report.

The unexpected boost in job openings carries implications for the labor market and the overall economy, as reflected in the rise of Treasury yields and a decline in the S&P 500 following the release of the data, the report said.

Notably, the quits rate, which measures the percentage of voluntary job leavers out of total employment, remained steady at 2.3% in August, matching the lowest level since 2020, per the report. This suggests that Americans are less confident in their ability to find another job in the current market, potentially indicating a lack of job security.

Despite improvements in workforce participation and consistent wage increases, challenges persist, according to the report. The ratio of job openings to unemployed people remained relatively unchanged at 1.5, compared to a peak of 2 to 1 in 2022. The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring the labor market’s progress, anticipating this trend to continue and help alleviate price pressures.

However, if the job market continues to exhibit persistent strength, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) may consider pursuing another rate hike, the report said.

Some economists have expressed skepticism regarding the reliability of the job openings statistics due to the survey’s low response rate, per the report. Additionally, there have been reports of employers “ghosting” jobseekers, posting job openings they do not intend to fill.

In other jobs-related news, it was reported Sept. 28 that while Amazon has announced plans to increase its hiring for the holiday season, it might be the only big company in the retail/fulfillment space to do so. Most companies in that sector are keeping their holiday hiring flat amid uncertainty about consumer spending.