State of the Labor Market

October 2019 JOLTS Report: The Beginning of the End of the Openings Decline?

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Heading into 2020, labor demand is still slowing down but the strong labor market persists.

While job openings year-over-year continue to decline, they look ready to hit a plateau. This may be the beginning of the end of the decline in demand for workers. Next year could see job openings start to grow once again.

In the here and now, job openings have outnumbered unemployed workers for an unprecedented 20 straight months, with roughly 1.25 job openings for every unemployed worker. The quits rates is still fairly elevated, especially in the private sector which ticked up to 2.6% in October. 

Though quitting is strong by historical standards, it leaves us wanting. The fact that it has not further picked up as unemployment drops and employment increases is a continuing sour note. 

As we get ready to start a new year, the story of 2019 remains the same: Labor demand is still slowing down, but the strong labor market persists. In 2020, I hope to see job openings really start to plateau or even pick back up. If that happens, we can really test how strong this labor market can get.

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