Richmond Times-Dispatch

Nov. job openings fell less than forecast


U.S. job openings fell in November by less than forecast, indicating labor demand remained relatively steady before the resurgent virus began to weigh on employment.

The number of available positions eased to 6.53 million from a revised 6.63 million in October, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, released Tuesday.

The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for 6.45 million vacancies. The figure doesn’t include openings involving workers recalled from layoffs or positions only offered internally.

The decrease in job openings included fewer vacancies in the education and health services, leisure and hospitalit­y and informatio­n industries, as well as state and local government­s.

Separation­s, which include layoffs and quits, rose by 271,000 to 5.41 million, the highest since April. The number of quits were little changed at 3.16 million, still the highest since February. The quits rate held at 2.2%, and the rate of layoffs and discharges rose to 1.4%, the highest since June, from 1.2%.

The number of hires, which includes rehired employees, improved slightly, rising by 67,000 to 5.98 million. The hires rate held at 4.2%.

The data lag a month behind the monthly jobs reports, which showed a slower pace of hiring in November before an outright decline last month due to more restaurant and bar closures. Despite the promise of vaccines, hiring headwinds may linger as the virus continues to rampage. New cases jumped by a record 1.8 million last week, and the death toll was also highest on record.

Competitio­n among job seekers eased for a seventh month, with 1.64 unemployed workers vying for every job opening in November. That contrasts with vacancies exceeding the number of unemployed by more than 1 million before the pandemic.

Three of four regions showed fewer job vacancies in November, led by an 87,000 drop in the South, the biggest decline since April. Openings also declined in the Northeast and West.

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