The US economy is on the brink of a recession. In fact, many economists believe the country has already entered a ‘technical’ recession after two consecutive quarters of economic decline, but the National Bureau of Economic Research is yet to formally determine the state of US finances.
In this economic context, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported its job openings and labor turnover summer (JOLTs) figures for June 2022.
Job openings declined 6.6% (or 605,000) on May 2022 numbers. This is a nine-month low, and is the biggest drop since April 2020 right at the beginning of the pandemic. Despite this, the job opening figures still remain above pre-pandemic levels.
Indeed Hiring Lab’s head of economic research Nick Bunker told Business Insider: “We’re probably in a situation where many employers are looking around, and they’re either staffed up to a certain extent or maybe they’re starting to reconsider some of their short-term hiring plans, so they’re pulling back a little bit on job openings”.
Hires remained flat at 4.2% or 6.4 million, while total separations were little changed at 5.9 million. Quits represented 4.2 million of these separations (2.8%) – this is down slightly from 4.3 million resignations in May, and the record high of 4.5 million in March.
There was a decline in resignations in construction, as well as hospitality and leisure. But the state and local education sector saw a slight uptick in quits.
Bunker added: “The temperature’s still hot. Workers still have lots of job opportunities right now. They have more bargaining power than they’ve had in the recent past.”
Ultimately it is clear that a looming economic crisis isn’t stopping employees from looking around for new jobs.
Inside the layoff figures
The US BLS JOLT study also looks beyond quits and at other types of separations– these include layoffs and job cuts.
Data from June shows that, despite the numerous headlines about recent job cuts, in fact the layoff rate remained little changed at 0.9% (or 1.3 million workers).
Compared to May 2022 figures, there was an uptick in layoffs in the information sector – this includes the tech industry, which has dominated the news around layoffs and hiring freezes in recent months.
However, the percentage of layoffs was actually lower in June 2022 (1%) than in June 2021 (1.1%).
Talking about the layoff figures, Bunker told Insider: “I think, yes, the trend is sort of a pick up in layoffs. But if those industries are shedding workers at the same rate they were prior to the pandemic, that’s still a pretty healthy labor market.”
Economic Policy Institute senior economist Elise Gould tweeted:
Mild reductions in hires, layoffs, and quits levels reported in June as the hires rate ticks down slightly and layoffs and quits rates hold steady. Layoffs continue to be low in historical terms and high levels of quits signal workers seeking (and finding) better opportunities. pic.twitter.com/K2erB4F5TZ
— Elise Gould (@eliselgould) August 2, 2022
The New York Times reported that the low layoff rate might suggest that employers want to keep hold of the talent they fought hard to win in the ‘Great Resignation’.
The BLS will report its full jobs report for June on Friday, so stay tuned to find out how a looming recession is impacting the broader job market, beyond hires, quits and layoffs.
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