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Job growth moderating, index finds; but BLS reports hires number at high in April

June 10, 2019

Recruitment difficulty and fill times are at historical highs, but the labor market continues to tighten, according to indications from The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index for May. On the other hand, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today the number of hires in April rose 4.2% from the previous month to a new series high — the highest level since 2009 — according to seasonally adjusted data.

“The [Conference Board’s] Employment Trends Index increased in May, more than reversing the declines in March and April,” said Gad Levanon, Chief Economist, North America, at The Conference Board.

“While we expect some slowdown in job growth, the Employment Trends Index suggests that this slowdown is likely to be modest enough to still tighten the labor market in the coming months,” Levanon said. “There is growing evidence that recruitment difficulties and time to fill open positions are now historically high, holding back the pace of hiring and job growth.”

He also noted The Conference board is seeing increased efforts at automation to reduce demand for workers amid a tightening labor market.

The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index rose to a reading of 111.63 in May from April’s 110.21 level.

Separately, despite the increase in hires, the BLS reported job openings and separations were little changed in April compared to March. According to the BLS, “hires” refers to the total number of additions to payroll including full-time and part-time, permanent, short-term, and seasonal employees.

Still, Lee Biggins, CEO of Resume-Library, said in a press release the JOLTS report was welcome news.

“However, the report also shows that there’s room for improvement in the professional and business services, where job openings decreased by 172,000,” Biggins said. “This isn’t surprising, considering the trade war between China and the US making it difficult for companies to plan right now. If Trump and the government don’t agree on a trade deal soon, business relations could be irreparably damaged, and the US economy will suffer as a result.” 

Job Openings, Hires and Separations for April 2019 (Seasonally Adjusted)
(000s)              
  April     2018 March     2019 April     2019 m/m change m/m % change y/y     change y/y % change
Job openings 7,106 7,474 7,449 -25 -0.3% 343 4.8%
Hires 5,694 5,697 5,937 240 4.2% 243 4.3%
Total separations 5,467 5,508 5,578 70 1.3% 111 2.0%
Rates              
Job openings 4.6% 4.7% 4.7% 0 bps - 10 bps -
Hires 3.8% 3.8% 3.9% 10 bps - 10 bps -
Total separations 3.7% 3.7% 3.7% 0 bps - 0 bps -
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics; bps=basis points        

The BLS released its Employment Situation report on Friday.

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