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There were 7.1 million job openings on the last day of October, second only to a high of 7.3 million in August, and the ratio of unemployed per job opening hit a low of 0.9. Separations remained steady at at 5.6 million, while hires edged up by +196,000 to 5.9 million. Job openings increased for information (+45,000), real estate (+38,000), and education, including government education (+37,000), and hires increased for transportation/warehousing/utilities (+90,000), and durable goods manufacturing (+43,000). Job openings decreased for non-education government jobs (-38,000) and transportation/warehousing/utilities (-33,000), and hires decreased for mining and logging (-11,000). The total number of separations was also relatively stable at 5.6 million, with 3.5 million quits, 1.7 million layoffs/discharges, and 351,000 other separations.
Wholesale inflation edged up by +0.1% in November as increases in service and food prices offset a sharp decline in energy prices, with overall yearly wholesale prices dropping -0.4% to +2.5%, prices excluding food and energy increasing +0.1% to +2.7%, and prices excluding food, energy and trade services holding steady at +2.8%. The increase in service prices was primarily due to a +0.3% increase in final demand trade services, which measures the change in margins received by wholesalers and retailers. Goods prices dropped by -0.4%, for the largest decrease since a -0.5% drop in May 2017, with a -14.0% drop in gasoline prices dragging overall energy prices down by -5.0%, which was partially balanced out by +1.3% increases in food prices and +1.5% increases in pharmaceutical preparations.
Falling energy prices also affected retail sales, with a -2.3% drop in gasoline sales pushing down overall sales to a +0.2% gain for November after an upwardly revised +1.1% for October. Sales also fell for building supplies (-0.3%) and restaurants (-0.5%) but increased for online retailers (+2.3%), electronics (+1.4%), furniture (+1.2%), and health and personal care (+0.9%). Excluding motor vehicle and gasoline sales, retail sales were up +0.5% compared to a +0.7% gain in the previous month. On a yearly basis, sales were up +4.2% overall, with gains of +10.8% for online retailers, +8.2% for gasoline stations, +5.6% for restaurants, +4.1% for clothing, and +4.0% for electronics, and sales falling -8.8% for sporting goods/hobby/book stores and -0.2% for department stores.
Wednesday December 19 – FOMC Meeting Announcement
Friday December 21 – Durable Goods Orders