October job openings fall to 8.7 million; lowest since 2021

A Labor Department report showed that job openings declined in October. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Job openings in October dropped to their lowest total in more than two years according to new statistics from the Labor Department released on Tuesday.

The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which is closely watched by the Federal Reserve to find signs of slack in the labor market, showed that there were 8.73 million job openings in October, down 617,000, or 6.6%, from the previous month. It marked the lowest estimate since March 2021.

The total was well off the 9.4 million estimate predicted by Dow Jones. The decline in job vacancies was significant enough to bring the ratio of openings to available employees down to 1.3 to 1, where it hovered at 2 to 1 this summer.

The job opening rate of 5.3% tumbled 0.3% from last month as job openings decreased in health care and social assistance by 236,000, in finance and insurance by 168,000, and real estate and rental and leasing by 49,000. The report noted a small increase in the information sector by 39,000.

The season of the "great resignation" appeared to have cooled off as well. In October, those who voluntarily left their jobs held at 3.6 million and at a rate of 2.3% for the fourth consecutive month. The report said it did see an increase in quits in the professional and business services at 97,000.

The Federal Reserve is set to hold its two-day policy meeting next week where it will announce its latest decision on interest rates.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell last week said that any speculation about the central bank cutting interest rates to loosen monetary policy is "premature" while adding the Fed was "prepared to tighten policy further if it becomes appropriate to do so."

The Fed last left rates unchanged at 5.25%-5.5% and was expected to do the same at the upcoming meeting.