Conditions wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic roiled the U.S. labor market, driving both job burnout and new opportunity and fueling the highest quitting rates ever recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
While the U.S. employment arena is still vibrant, with 1.7 job openings for every 1 unemployed worker, the “Great Resignation” phenomena may be on the ebb as signs are pointing to some cooling as a wider economic slowdown appears on the horizon.
U.S. labor market still hot, just not smoking
The most recent report from the Labor Department found job openings experienced the biggest drop in over two-and-a-half years in August, declining by 1.1 million positions. But even with the slump, the number of job vacancies across the nation remained above 10 million for the 14th month in a row.
Health care and social assistance job openings saw the biggest decline in August, down 236,000 compared to July. The “other services” category lost 183,000 openings and unfilled vacancies for retail trade businesses fell by 143,000.
While job vacancies declined from July to August, the U.S. job quitting rate remained near record territory in August at 4.2 million, up from 4.1 million in July.
The U.S. Federal Reserve, which has been working to quell inflation by cooling off the economy with a series of aggressive interest rate hikes this year, is likely to view the latest jobs data as evidence that further action is still needed.
“Even as higher interest rates and inflation, and weaker business and consumer confidence are beginning to tamp down labor market activity, the labor market still remains healthy,” Sophia Koropeckyj, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania, told Reuters. “We expect that the Fed is not yet ready to pause.”
U.S. tech jobs seeing some of the biggest declines
A new analysis from Indeed.com finds some of the biggest declines in available job openings are coming in sectors that were seeing the biggest upticks during the worst of pandemic conditions.
Software developer positions are down 29% since last December, with marketing vacancies dropping 26% and scientific research and development position openings down 20% over the same time period, per a report from Axios.
In one indicator that may be seen as a foreshadowing of a broader slowdown in overall hiring, open positions for human resources professionals have declined by 20% since December 2021.
“If you’re looking to hire fewer HR people, that probably means you’re looking to hire fewer people in general,” Nick Bunker, Indeed’s economic research director for North America, told Axios.