US job openings increase; trend still slowing

U.S. job openings rose in May after posting outsized declines in the prior two months, but the trend remained consistent with an easing in labor market conditions that could pave the way for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates this year.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, from the Labor Department on Tuesday showed there were 1.22 vacancies for every unemployed person in May, unchanged from April and the lowest vacancy-to-unemployment ratio since 2021. April’s ratio previously had been estimated at 1.24. The ratio is now not too far from its average of 1.19 in 2019.

“The data are pointing 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 going forward will be to keep rates at a level that not only helps keep inflation in check but also prevents unnecessary damage to the labor market.”

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, rose 221,000 to 8.140 million on the last day of May, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Data for April was revised lower to show 7.919 million unfilled positions instead of the previously reported 8.059 million. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 7.910 million job openings in May.


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