US employers still scrambling to fill vacancies, report shows

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US employers still scrambling to fill vacancies, report shows

Job openings and the number of workers leaving jobs in the United States near record highs in January, an indicator of labor demand and labor leverage.

Data released Wednesday by the Labor Department as part of its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, is another sign of an economy that may be faltering a bit this winter in the face of the Omicron wave of the coronavirus. Hui still remains strong.

Job openings fell to 11.3 million, slightly below a record in December, but are still up about 61 percent from February 2020.

In a possible sign of the impact from the spread of the variant, many industries that are reeling from the pandemic, and most hungry for workers, reported fewer job openings. Housing and food services experienced a decline of 288,000. Transport, storage and utilities reported 132,000 fewer openings. But large-scale openings are increasing in both the manufacturing and service sectors.

There were total jobs vacant in state and local government education, a major hurdle in the recovery from the pandemic. The exodus of teachers and other education professionals from the public sector has been a challenge for school districts as they resume full-time in-person learning.

Some 4.3 million people left their jobs voluntarily in January, a record low compared to the 45 million who left in November. While layoffs picked up a bit in January, they are still hovering above historic lows.

The share of Americans in their prime working years – ages 25 to 54 – who are either working or looking for work in 2020, still declined 1 percentage point above pre-pandemic levels at 79.5 percent Inside, there has been a very rapid rebound. compared to the last recession.

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The current climate is likely to raise the cost of labor – a welcome development for workers who have struggled with stagnant wages and power shortages for decades, and an unsustainable one for employers as high inflation drives up the cost of doing a business.

Some business executives and managers have expressed concern – in corporate earnings and private calls – that “wage inflation” could dent and cut profits if the rapid wage benefits received by workers in the past year are not reduced.

“When it comes to their business, they’re very concerned about: What’s the point of their margins going forward, what kind of pricing power do they have?” Where unemployment is fairly low, at 2.8 percent, said Steve Wyatt, chief investment strategist at BOK Financial, a regional bank based in Oklahoma. “How do we protect ourselves from this?”

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that workers who leave to take other jobs are receiving higher pay increases than those who do not, although much of the movement is in low-wage sectors. .

Hourly earnings were nearly flat in February, following strong wage gains from the Labor Department’s employment survey in January. And even if wage benefits remain strong, they stay away from runaway levels.

Fed data shows that the average annual wage growth in the US labor market is well within the range — 3 to 7 percent — that persisted from the 1980s to the 2007-9 recession.

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