State of the Labor Market

August 2019 JOLTS Report: Dark Clouds for Labor Demand


The outlook for labor demand continues to darken, as job openings disappoint again this month. On a year over year basis, the number of job openings declined for the third straight month, signaling a labor market where employers are pulling back on hiring. Today’s numbers give credence to the argument that the labor market slowdown is driven by employer demand.

The quits rate remains fairly elevated after hitting an expansion high in July, though it declined slightly this month. Job openings outnumbered unemployed workers for the 18th straight month, though the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings has increased steadily since April. Job seekers still have quite a bit of bargaining power, but they are losing some of their leverage.

The labor market, by many metrics, remains strong, but it’s losing momentum. The weather right now is still sunny, but there are a few clouds moving in.

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