US job openings drop in April, as labor market normalizes

U.S. job openings fell more than expected in April, pushing the number of available jobs per job-seeker to its lowest in nearly three years as labor market conditions soften in a manner that could help the Federal Reserve’s fight against inflation.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, were down 296,000 to 8.059 million on the last day of April, the lowest level since February 2021, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Tuesday in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report.

That left 1.24 openings in April for every unemployed person, down from 1.3 in March and the lowest since June 2021. The ratio, watched closely by Fed Chair Jerome Powell as a sign of labor market tightness, is well below its post-pandemic peak of nearly two to one, and now matches the high-water mark of pre-pandemic times.

Though still elevated, the drop in job openings points to “an ongoing normalization between supply and demand for labor,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “From a policy perspective, the Fed’s challenge will be to maintain rates at a level that not only helps keep inflation in check but also prevents a significant weakening in the labor market going forward.”


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