In a sign that companies were bullish about the economy, the US businesses posted 11 million open jobs in October, almost matching a record high reached in July, The Associated Press (AP) reported, citing government data.
The number of people quitting their jobs fell in October to 4.2 million, from 4.4 million in the prior month, though that is still the third-highest number of monthly resignations on records dating back to 2000, the AP report said, quoting The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS.
The figures show that job-seekers have the most bargaining power they have had in at least two decades, as more companies chase the relatively few unemployed people. Wages are rising at a healthy pace, particularly for lower-paid employees, though much of that bump in pay is being eroded by higher inflation.
There were just 7.4 million people counted as unemployed in October, as against 11 million open jobs.
The US economy created far fewer jobs than expected in November, signaling the pace of hiring had begun to slow even before the threat of the new Covid variant (Omicron) emerged, the Labor Department reported last week. It also said that only 210,000 jobs were created, the fewest in nearly a year. This followed a gain of 546,000 the previous month.
The US unemployment rate fell sharply to 4.2% from 4.6%, even though the labor force participation rate increased for the month to 61.8%, its highest level since March 2020.
The JOLTS report reflects October data, when new COVID-19 infections were still falling and before the emergence of the omicron variant, which could dampen the economy in the coming months.