American employers posted fewer job openings in June as the economy contends with raging inflation and rising interest rates.
Job openings fell to a still-high 10.7 million in June from 11.3 million in May, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Job openings, which never exceeded 8 million in a month before last year, had topped 11 million every month from December through May before dipping in June.
In its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the Labor Department said that the number of Americans quitting their jobs fell slightly but remained high at 4.2 million in June while layoffs fell to 1.3 million from 1.4 million in May.
The job market has been resilient so far this year, and companies have complained that it is hard to fill open positions: Employers have added an average of 457,000 a jobs a month in 2022; and unemployment is near a 50-year low. That is one reason many economists believe the economy is not yet in an recession even though gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, has contracted for two quarters in a row — one rule of thumb for the onset of a downturn.
“If the economy is rolling over, the labor market had apparently not gotten the memo yet as of the end of June,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. “A case could be made for slight moderation from an egregiously overheated state, but that is about as far as I would go in assessing labor market conditions.”
The Labor Department’s jobs report for July, out Friday, is expected to show that employers tacked on another 250,000 jobs last month, which would be a healthy number in normal times but would be the lowest since December 2020, when the global economy was being ravaged by the pandemic. Economists also expect that unemployment stayed at 3.6% for the fifth straight month, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet.
The economy is under pressure as the Federal Reserves raises interest rates to combat inflation that is running at the fastest pace in four decades.