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The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS reported 10.56 million job openings as of the last day of November, a decline from an upwardly revised 11.09M in October. The job openings rate was 6.6%, down from about 7% in October, and well above the 4.5% reading of the prior year. Industries contributing to the decrease include accommodation and food services (-261,000), construction (-110,000), and nondurable goods manufacturing (-66,000). Job openings increased in finance and insurance (+83,000) and in federal government (+25,000). A record 4.53M people quit their jobs in November, an 8.9% increase over October, beating the previous record set in September of 4.36M. The largest increases in quits came from restaurants (+159,000), health care (+52,000); and warehousing (+33,000). The number of people who quit their jobs for other opportunities made up 3.0% of the workforce in November, up from 2.8% in October. The number of hires rose slightly (+191,000) to 6.7M in November, with the hire rate ticking up to 4.5%. There have been 74.5M hires and 68.7M separations over the past 12 months, resulting in a net employment gain of 5.9M.
The Federal Reserve in the release of its December FOMC minutes discussed plans to start reducing its bond holdings. The rolling off of the nearly $8.3 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities is likely to start in the early part of 2022. The FOMC minutes indicated that “Almost all participants agreed that it would likely be appropriate to initiate balance sheet runoff at some point after the first increase in the target range for the federal funds rate”. The minutes also indicated that once the process begins, “the appropriate pace of balance sheet runoff would likely be faster than it was during the previous normalization episode”. It is likely to be completed by mid-March 2022. The Fed also kept the benchmark interest rate near zero. However, policymakers indicated that they anticipate up to three quarter-percentage-point increases in 2022, as well as another three increases in 2023, and two more in 2024.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a weaker than expected 199,000 jobs were added in December and follows an upwardly revised November jobs figure of 249,000. The jobs report reflects the economy in early December, before the spike in COVID infections. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.9%, down 0.3% from November. Leisure & hospitality led job growth in December (+53K), followed by professional and business services (+43K), manufacturing (+26K), construction (+22K), and warehousing (+19K). Employment was little changed in other major industries, including retail trade, information, financial activities, health care, other services, and government. Average hourly earnings increased by 0.6% to $31.31 in December, year over year average hourly earnings have increased 4.7%. The number of unemployed fell by 483,000 to 6.3M, down from 23.1M in April 2020, but still well above February 2020’s 5.8M. The labor force participation rate or the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking was little changed at 61.9%, still short of the pre-pandemic level of 63.3%.
Thursday January 13 – Producer Price Index (MoM) (December)
Friday January 14 – Retail Sales (MoM) (December)
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