ALL NEWS

US job openings, quitting at near record high in February

Mar 29, 2022, 11:46 AM
FILE - A "now hiring" sign is posted in Garnet Valley, Pa., Monday, May 10, 2021.  Job openings sta...
FILE - A "now hiring" sign is posted in Garnet Valley, Pa., Monday, May 10, 2021. Job openings stayed at a near-record level in February, 2022, little changed from the previous month, continuing a trend that Federal Reserve officials see as a driver of inflation. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File )
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File )

WASHINGTON (AP) — Job openings hovered at a near-record level in February, little changed from the previous month, continuing a trend that Federal Reserve officials see as a driver of inflation.

There were 11.3 million available jobs last month, matching January’s figure and just below December’s record of 11.4 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Related reading: Utah reaches new low unemployment rate of 2.1%

The number of Americans quitting their jobs was also historically high, at 4.4 million, up from 4.3 million in January. More than 4.5 million people quit in November, the most on records dating back two decades. Many people are taking advantage of numerous opportunities to switch jobs, often for higher pay. The vast majority of those quitting do so to take another position.

Tuesday’s report is separate from the government’s monthly employment report, which in February showed that employers added a robust 678,000 jobs.

The data “shows that the labor market remains torrid,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, said in a research note. “In a month when the economy added 678,000 jobs, the number of job openings only went down by 17,000. That speaks to the depth of the bid that employers have for labor.”

The outsize number of available jobs and quits has contributed to rampaging inflation, as many companies have had to raise pay to attract and keep workers. In February, there were 1.8 openings for every unemployed worker. Before the pandemic, there were usually more unemployed people than job openings.

The unemployment rate, at 3.8%, is near the pre-pandemic level of 3.5%, which was the lowest in five decades. And there are still several million fewer people working or looking for work than before the pandemic, forcing employers to compete among a smaller labor pool.

Because of those trends, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has singled out openings and quits as a key measure of the labor market’s health and a target of the Fed’s interest-rate policies. Powell has said that the central bank hopes to reduce the number of available jobs as a way of cooling wage increases and price inflation.

“If you were just moving down the number of job openings … you would have less upward pressure on wages,” Powell said. “We need to use our tools to move supply and demand back” into alignment.

With employers desperate to find workers, wages and salaries rose 4.5% in 2021, the fastest pace in at least two decades. Many businesses have, in turn, charged their customers more to cover the higher labor costs.

Inflation jumped 7.9% in February from a year earlier, a four-decade high.

Earlier this month the Fed said it had raised its short-term interest rate for the first time in four years, to about 0.375%, to rein in inflation. More rate hikes are expected this year, including potentially one or more half-point increases.

Powell’s hope is that by reducing job openings and slowing wage gains, the Fed can bring down inflation without causing widespread layoffs and pushing unemployment higher. Economists overall are skeptical, however, that the Fed can achieve such a “soft landing” for the economy. They worry that the Fed’s rate hikes will result in job losses and potentially even a recession.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Anderson was arrested the morning of Sept. 24, 2022, by West Valley Police on felony child sexual a...
Waverly Golden

First grade teacher in Magna arrested on felony child sexual abuse charges

Elk Run Elementary first grade teacher Dale Anderson was arrested this morning on felony child sexual abuse charges.
21 hours ago
The Nephi City Police said in a Facebook post that a man was luring children to his vehicle yesterd...
Waverly Golden

Be on lookout for suspicious vehicle in Nephi

The Nephi City Police said in a Facebook post that a man was luring children to his vehicle yesterday afternoon.
21 hours ago
Aaron Fotheringham, aka "Wheelz" from Nitro Circus taught and performed tricks at Wheelchair Palooz...
Waverly Golden

Wheelchair Palooza at Woodward Park City

Aaron Fotheringham, aka "Wheelz" from Nitro Circus taught and performed tricks at Wheelchair Palooza in Park City.
21 hours ago
Semi CAX...
Simone Seikaly

Two-vehicle crash involving a semi closes Highway 138 on Friday

A two-vehicle crash involving a fuel truck on Friday morning closed Highway 138 in Tooele County.
21 hours ago
WWE Essential...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

John Cena breaks Make-A-Wish record after granting 650 wishes

Actor, wrestling legend, and perpetual meme subject John Cena has completed a new accomplishment: breaking the world record for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
21 hours ago
Follow @amandadickson...
Amanda Dickson

Time Out on the Field

One of my first jobs when I started at KSL in 1990 was running the board for BYU games, football and basketball.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
US job openings, quitting at near record high in February