WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job openings fell to a 1-1/2-year low in August and hiring declined, suggesting employment growth was slowing largely because of ebbing demand for labor as the economy loses momentum.
FILE PHOTO: A “Now Hiring” sign sits in the window of Tatte Bakery and Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
Despite the third straight monthly drop in vacancies reported by the Labor Department on Wednesday, job openings are still plenty enough to ease financial market fears of a looming recession. Job openings are being closely watched for signs of whether an erosion in business confidence, which has weighed on capital investment, is spilling over to hiring.
A 15-month trade war between the United States and China has hurt business confidence, leading to a retrenchment in business spending and downturn in manufacturing. The trade war has stoked financial market fears of a recession.
“The labor market is slipping a little, but it’s not flashing any recession signals yet,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. “You can’t have a recession with 7 million help wanted signs posted up in factory and store windows around the country.”
Job openings, a measure of labor demand, dropped by 123,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.05 million in August, the lowest level since March 2018, the government said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS.
Job openings have been trending lower this year since scaling an all-time high of 7.63 million in late 2018. The job openings rate fell to 4.4% in