U.S. job openings surged unexpectedly at the end of 2022 as demand for workers increases despite an aggressive campaign by the Federal ReserveFederal Reserve to raise interest rates and cool the labor market.
More than 11 million job openings were reported in December, a rise from 10.46 million reported the previous month, according to the Labor Department. There were economists who surveyed by Refinitiv expect openings to fall to 10.25 million.
The highest number on record was 7.7 million before the outbreak began in February 2020, which has now reached 10 million for 14 consecutive months. There are about 1.7 jobs per unemployed American.
The labor market tightness and inflation are the things that the closely watch as it tries to keep pace with these figures. Demand for employees still surpasses the supply of available workers, with roughly 1.9 open job posts per unemployed worker, according to the stronger-than-expected figure.
Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank, said that the job openings report is an outlier and that labor market data has been sending mixed messages. The job market was incredibly hot in early 2022 and has lost some momentum since, but with the effects varying across sectors and geographies. The Fed has responded to the inflation crisis and the tight labor market by raising interest rates at the fastest pace in decades. The benchmark federal funds rate was lifted well into restrictive territory last year, but officials showed no signs of pausing. The policymakers are expected to approve an eighth straight increase at the end of their two-day meeting on Wednesday.
The number of Americans quitting their jobs was largely unchanged at 4.1 million, or about 2.7% of the workforce, showing that workers are confident that they can leave their jobs and find employment elsewhere.
The Atlanta Fed reported last year that workers saw a 7.7% annual wage growth rate in November from the previous year, up from 5.5% for workers who don't switch jobs, a trend that has been a windfall for many workers over the past year.