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Caution ahead: Job openings in U.S. on the decline in ‘different economy’

Rebecca Barnabi
job interview
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Jobs are close to jumping on the endangered species list in the United States.

CNN Business reports a decline in hiring in October 2023.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Tuesday reveals an estimated 8.7 million available jobs in October 2023.

For every unemployed American, an estimated 1.3 jobs are available.

The data reveals the lowest job openings since March 2021 and suggest more evidence that the U.S. labor market is chilling out.

In March 2022, a record 12.03 million positions were available, but October 2023 brought only 7 million, reminiscent of pre-COVID-19 pandemic availability.

“Now we’re starting to head back to levels that are truly consistent with what you would call a cooling labor market,” LinkedIn Chief Economist Karin Kimbrough told CNN.

BLS JOLTS data was on the up and up for two months, but is now coming in under expectations.

The U.S. added only 150,000 jobs in October 2023, the second lowest tally since 2021.

Employers and employees are approaching the job market with caution amid high inflation. An imbalance in supply and demand for employees raises concerns for the need to raise wages which could prompt companies to raise costs to consumers.

“I think this reflects some caution on the part of employers,” Kimbrough said. “They’ve had a cautious stance in terms of hiring, but you can see it now in terms of the job openings aren’t coming in as fast as before.”

According to Kimbrough, employees appear to be choosing to stay where they are, an indication that Americans feel less secure about the economy, which can signal a cooling of wage growth.

“[Employees are] reading the room; they recognize that they might be better off to dance with the one that brought you,” she said. “They’re definitely uncertain, and this uncertainty is actually starting to match the cautious stance that employers were already taking.”

She added: “Workers are also realizing that this is a different economy.”

CNN reported that more data will be available this week from BLS.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.