Labor Market Stays Hot as Job Openings Grow to 11 Million in December

The number of job openings jumped to 11 million in December, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The better-than-expected total signifies a persistent demand for labor that is at odds with the Federal Reserve’s efforts to curb inflation. When the number of jobs outweighs the number of available workers, there is a higher likelihood of wage inflation, as companies compete to hire and maintain talent.

The December job openings marked an increase from November’s 10.5 million openings and October’s 10.3 million openings. The rate of job openings in December grew to 6.7%. Compared to November, job openings increased in accommodation and food services, construction and retail trade. Jobs decreased in information and in transportation, warehousing and utilities.

Separations in December, which include quits, layoffs and discharges, was little changed from November at 5.9 million at a rate of 3.8%. Layoffs and discharges totaled 1.5 million at a rate of 1%. And about 4.1 million people quit their jobs in December at a rate of 2.7%.

Resignations decreased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities by 69,000 and increased in retail by 3,000.

According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in December, beating estimates of 200,000 jobs. This number represented a dip from November, which saw an increase of 256,000 jobs and from October, which saw an increase of 263,000 jobs.

The Fed is expected to announce its latest interest rate hike on Wednesday after implementing a series of hikes in recent months in an effort to curb inflation. In December, it raised rates another half a percentage point, marking the highest level in 15 years. Meanwhile, inflation is slowly starting to cool. Consumer prices rose by 6.5% in December compared to the prior year, marking the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending in October 2021 and a slowdown from November’s 7.1% and October’s 7.7% year over year growth.

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