US job openings shrank by 105,000 in November as the hiring rate held steady

US job openings shrank by 105,000 in November as the hiring rate held steady
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images
  • US job openings fell in November as hiring held steady despite soaring COVID-19 cases.
  • Openings dropped by 105,000 to 6.5 million, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover, or JOLTS, survey data.
  • The reading matches the median estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
  • The hiring rate held steady from the previous month's revised reading of 4.2%. The rate sits barely above its pre-pandemic levels while more than 10 million Americans remain unemployed, signaling the labor market's recovery slowed significantly.

US job openings dipped in November as businesses continued to hire workers amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Openings dropped by 105,000 to about 6.5 million through November, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Tuesday. The reading met the 6.5 million openings forecasted by economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The largest declines came from the durable-goods manufacturing and information industries. The retail trade and transportation industries saw mild increases in openings.
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The hiring rate landed at 4.2%, the same as the revised October reading. The rate hovered just below 4% before the coronavirus pandemic, signaling the rate of recovery in the labor market has stagnated while more than 10 million Americans remain unemployed.

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The ratio of jobs-to-unemployed-Americans improved slightly but remained well above levels seen before the pandemic. Roughly 1.6 workers competed for every job opening in November, compared to 1.7 workers the month prior.
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Separations, which include quits and layoffs, increased by 271,000 to 5.4 million. The US quits rate held at 2.2%, while the total number of quits rose by 6,000 to 3.2 million. Quits were most heavily concentrated in the accommodation and food-service industries.

The JOLTS release comes days after the government's gloomy December payrolls report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that US economy shed 140,000 nonfarm payrolls last month as the unemployment crisis continued into the new year. Economists expected growth of 50,000 payrolls. The unemployment rate held steady at 6.7%, coming in just below the median economist estimate of 6.8%. The reading snapped a seven-month streak of job growth in the US. It marks a sharp reversal from the 336,000 payrolls added in November, suggesting future JOLTS data could prove discouraging as well.
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