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Labor Market Begins to Cool

The long-anticipated cooling of the labor market seems to have begun, according to Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What’s going on: Labor’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey reported 694,000 manufacturing job openings in February.

  • That’s down from a revised 732,000 in January and the lowest level in two years.
  • Over the past 12 months, job openings in the industry have averaged almost 828,000.
  • Even with some easing in recent months, manufacturing job openings remain well above pre-pandemic levels.

More hiring, quits: Manufacturers hired 422,000 workers in February, up from 420,000 in January.

  • Total separations—quits, firings, layoffs and retirements—increased to 415,000 from January’s 406,000. Thus, net hiring for February totaled 7,000, the weakest reading in almost two years.
  • Total manufacturing-sector quits rose to 283,000 from 267,000, a six-month high.
  • Overall, net hiring in manufacturing has averaged 28,667 over the past year.  

The big picture: In the larger economy, nonfarm business job openings decreased to 9,931,000 in February from 10,563,000 in January.

  • This was the first reading below 10 million in almost two years.
  • Meanwhile, the 5,936,000 unemployed Americans reported in February means there continued to be significantly more job openings than people seeking work.
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