US job openings rise slightly; labor market steadily easing

U.S. job openings edged up in February, though labor market conditions are gradually easing in support of expectations that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates by June.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, from the Labor Department on Tuesday showed there were 1.36 vacancies for every unemployed person in February, down from 1.43 in January. The decline in the vacancy-to-unemployment ratio reflected a spike in unemployment at the start of the year. Economists, however, argued that the drop in the ratio in February did not mark a material shift in the labor market.

“There is nothing here to worry Fed policymakers, who want a strong labor market, but the very slow progress in reducing the apparent excess demand for labor is not likely to encourage the Fed to cut interest rates in the immediate future,” said Conrad DeQuadros, senior economic advisor at Brean Capital in New York.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, edged up 8,000 to 8.756 million on the last day of February, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Data for January was revised lower to show 8.748 million unfilled positions instead of the previously reported 8.863 million.


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