U.S. businesses reported 11.2 million job openings at the end of July, according to data released by the Labor Department Tuesday.
Although the labor market numbers were stable overall relative to the previous month, job openings edged higher for the first time in four months, defying expectations for continued decline. As of the end of July, there were roughly two jobs for every unemployed American, up from 1.9 jobs in June.
Persistent tightness in the labor market suggests that the Federal Reserve will hold the course on its monetary tightening campaign, making it more likely that the central bank will produce the economic “pain” of slower growth — if not an outright recession — that Fed Chair Jay Powell warned about last week.
“Demand for labor shows no sign of cooling despite the Fed’s efforts to slow it down,” economist Eliza Winger told Bloomberg. “Job openings failed to decline in July and the ratio of job openings per unemployed — one of the Fed’s preferred measures of labor-market tightness — remained near a record high. That suggests the central bank needs to keep on an aggressive rate-hike course, tipping the scale toward a 75-basis-point increase at the September FOMC meeting.”