The numbers: Job openings in the U.S. rose to a five-month high of 11 million in December, a sign the labor market is still extremely tight despite a slowing economy and more layoffs in some sectors such as high tech.
Job listings increased from 10.4 million in December, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
The number of job openings is seen as a cue on the health of the labor market and broader U.S. economy. Job postings are still quite high even though they have retreated from a record 11.9 million last spring.
Normally that’s great news, but the Federal Reserve wants to see job openings decline even further and loosen up a tight labor market. A shortage of workers threatens to keep wage growth high and make it harder for the Fed to tame rampant inflation.
Some 4.09 million people quit jobs in the final month of 2022, the 19th month in a row it’s topped the 4 million mark
Big picture: The Fed is raising interest rates to slow the economy and shrink the demand for labor as part of a strategy to squelch the worst inflation in 40 years.
Hiring is expected to slow in 2023 — and unemployment rise — as higher rates pinch businesses and consumers. Many economists think a recession is likely.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
fell in Wednesday trades.