The numbers: U.S. job openings dropped to 11.4 million in April from a record 11.9 million, signaling some softening in what’s still the tightest labor market in decades.
The number of people who quit jobs in April, meanwhile, was little changed at 4.4 million, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
Quits topped 4 million last summer for the first time ever, part of a pandemic-era trend that’s become known as “the great resignation.”
Before the pandemic, the number of people quitting jobs averaged fewer than 3 million a month.
Big picture: The U.S. labor market might be the economy’s saving grace as the Federal Reserve moves to raise interest rates to tame inflation.
Higher rates are likely to slow the economy, but as long as most companies are hiring and workers feel secure in their jobs they are likely to keep spending. And steady consumer spending woud keep the economy out of recession.
There have been a smattering of companies announcing layoffs, however, and economists are watching closely for signs of weakening in the labor market. With the Fed raising rates, businesses may be more cautious about hiring.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
rose in Wednesday trades.