This month marks another decline in labor demand as our data signals a 3.75% drop in national job openings for December of last year.
A nearly 4% decline brings total job openings to 8.46 million and confirms our expectation of ongoing cooling in labor demand. In spite of lessened demand, we read this downward trend optimistically—as a healthy balance of supply and demand in a full employment environment. Unemployment remains flat, wages are up, and the markets are waxing confident that the Fed will begin cutting interest rates as early as March.
It remains possible that this cooling will intensify to a freezing point and deliver the long-speculated recession we’ve thus far avoided. But as it stands today, the national economy continues to defy expectations and prove its resilience.
As always, our forecast comes well ahead of the official JOLTs release; the BLS will release its job opening report for December on January 30th, 2024. The BLS derives JOLTS numbers from surveys, a method that has always relied on educated guesswork. In the last four years particularly, the response rate of the JOLTS survey has plummeted from roughly 60% in 2019 to a room-clearing 32.4% as of Sept 2023 according to the BLS. The survey model for employment data appears to be in its death throes.
LinkUp never leverages surveys because we don’t have to. Our job data comes directly from the source–job listings on company websites, indexed daily. As the JOLTs survey continues to skew into the field of abstraction, LinkUp’s accurate and timely data is the leading bellwether of job market conditions as they evolve in real time.
We’ll continue to monitor and report on the evolving state of the labor economy. In the meantime, for an in depth overview of the job market, key concepts and labor market metrics, check out our Jobs 101 blog series.