Job openings fell by 660k in August, from 11.10 million to 10.44 million. Unemployment fell by less, from 8.70 million to 8.38 million (-320k), as absentees return to the workforce. Unemployment declined steeply (-710k) to 7.67 million in September and we expect an even larger decline in job openings as more return to the workforce.
Job openings in August exceed unemployment by 2.06 million. While this is expected to reduce over the next few months, as stragglers return to the workforce, the persistent gap is likely to add upward pressure to wages. Average hourly earnings growth, currently at 4.6% YoY, is expected to rise in the months ahead.
The number of people who quit jobs voluntarily – to work for another company that offered higher wages and benefits and a signing bonus; to change careers entirely; to stay home and take care of the kids; to spend more time with their money; or whatever – spiked by another 242,000 people to a record of 4.27 million in August, up 19% from August 2019…….This enormous number of quits is the hallmark of a tight and competitive labor market that encourages workers to switch jobs to seek the greener grass on the other side of the fence. (Wolf Richter)
The economy is recovering but the persistent gap between job openings and unemployment suggests that upward pressure on wages is likely to continue into next year. Rising wage rates add pressure on prices of consumer goods and services, adding to the inflationary spiral.