State of the Labor Market

Job Openings and Turnover Report, April 2019: Don’t Confuse a Slowdown for a Turndown

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There are roughly 1.3 open jobs for each unemployed worker

Key points:

  • There are still 7.4 million open jobs, signaling strong employer demand.
  • Openings also continue to outnumber unemployed workers for the 14th straight month. In fact, there are roughly 1.3 open jobs for each unemployed worker.
  • Employers don’t seem to be shedding the employees they already have. The layoffs and discharge rate remains quite low at 1.2%.

Today’s numbers covering April 2019 from the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) confirm that the labor market has lost some momentum, but don’t confuse a slowdown for a turndown. Though job openings grew by only 4.8% over the past year, there are still 7.4 million open jobs, signaling strong employer demand. Openings also continue to outnumber unemployed workers for the 14th straight month. In fact, there are roughly 1.3 open jobs for each unemployed worker. (The JOLTS report comes from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Furthermore, employers don’t seem to be shedding the employees they already have. The layoffs and discharge rate remains quite low at 1.2%. Wait for that number to spike before fretting over a weakening labor market.

Labor demand is strong, employers are still finding it relatively difficult to full jobs, and worker confidence, at least as measured by the quits rate, remains high. Slowdowns happen. Just because this year won’t be as strong as last year doesn’t mean a recession is looming.

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