WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – US businesses posted near-record levels of open jobs in January, a trend that helped push workers’ wages up and added to inflationary pressures in the US economy.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that employers posted 11.3 million jobs at the end of January, down slightly from a record 11.4 million in December.
Job losses fell from 4.4 million to 4.25 million, although the January figure is still 23% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Millions of people are taking advantage of the many opportunities to change jobs, often for higher pay. Most of the dropouts do so to take another position.
The figures are for January and do not reflect any potential impact from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a result, although some economists predict the war will reduce recruitment in the immediate future.
According to US data released last week, the average hourly wage rose 5.1% in February compared to a year ago, a rapid gain that could push companies to either become more efficient or to offset their higher labor costs. forces it to increase. In some industries such as restaurants, large wage benefits for workers have driven prices higher.
On Thursday, the government will release its inflation report, which economists expect will see consumer prices rise 7.9% in February from a year earlier, data FactSet provide. This will be the biggest gain in four decades.
Wednesday’s report underscores the distorted nature of the job market two years after the pandemic. There are 1.7 jobs available for every unemployed worker, leading to widespread complaints about labor shortages in businesses. It is good for the employees if it enables them to demand higher wages.
But it can also clog the supply chain if trucking and other logistics firms cannot meet the demand for shipments. In other cases, a lack of staff causes businesses to shut down.
Wednesday’s job openings report follows the release of the last week of national employment data for February. It showed that employers added 678,000 jobs in February, the highest in seven months. The unemployment rate fell from 4% in January to 3.8%, the lowest since the pandemic began.
According to last week’s jobs report, more Americans are resuming job searches, although the increase was modest. More job seekers will make it easier for companies to fill jobs and reduce some of the inflationary pressures that are keeping prices high.
The Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise its benchmark short-term interest rate when it meets next week, its first hike since 2018 in an effort to calm inflation.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told a congressional hearing last week that it was not yet clear what impact Russia’s aggression would have on the US economy. This has already pushed gas prices nationwide above an average of $4 a gallon.
But he said the Fed had planned to launch a series of rate hikes next week before the war, and would follow that plan “carefully” for now.