A recent report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that job openings in the US declined to its lowest level in six months in November 2020. With the onset of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, job openings decreased 1.4 per available worker, down from 1.6 in October. This indicates a continuing softening of the labor market.
The decline was most substantial in the leisure and hospitality sector, which saw a decrease of 300,000 job openings. Since leisure and hospitality businesses are largely reliant on consumers, the decrease was expected as unemployment surges and consumer spending dips in response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, job openings in healthcare, retail, and professional/business services registered slight decreases as well.
Meanwhile, the rate of hiring also declined to 4.2 million in November, a drop from the 4.3 million reported in October. This marked the fourth straight month of hiring decreases. This could be indicative of the growing wariness of employers to fill positions as economic uncertainty persists.
Despite the drop in job openings, there were some notable exceptions. Job openings in educational services reportedly increased by 10,000, while openings in manufacturing, finance, IT and transportation & warehousing also increased. This could be due to employers hiring highly skilled workers in order to stay competitive in the increasingly digital market.
Although this report doesn’t paint a positive outlook for the US labor market, experts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics point out that job prospects have improved since April, when job openings bottomed out at 827,000. They also note that the number of job openings in November is still much higher than it was in February, before the pandemic struck. This indicates that there are still pockets of potential employment opportunities within the US labor market, even if job prospects overall remain uncertain.