US Job Openings at 10.9Mln at End of 2021 as Labor Demand Exceeds Supply

© REUTERS / ANDREW KELLYSignage for a job fair is seen on 5th Avenue after the release of the jobs report in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 3, 2021.
Signage for a job fair is seen on 5th Avenue after the release of the jobs report in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 3, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.02.2022
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US job openings stood at 10.9 million at the end of 2021 after increasing by 300,000 from end of November onward, the Labor Department said in its Job Openings And Labor Turnover (JOLTS) report.
“On the last business day of December, the number of job openings was… 10.9 million,” the report said. On the last day of November, there were 10.6 million job openings, the previous JOLTS report showed.
The report came ahead of Friday’s US non-farm payrolls report for December that would show how the labor market performed last month and for all of 2021 amid continued challenges from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic measures.
Economists surveyed by US media expect the economy to have added a net 150,000 jobs for December versus 199,000 for November.
After staggering unemployment triggered by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in 2020, the labor market picked up last year, showing a jobless rate of 3.9% in December from a record high of 14.8% in April 2020. The Federal Reserve regards a jobless rate of 4% or below as “maximum employment.”
Still, jobs growth since the onset of the pandemic has not been even, with gains for some months coming in way below economists' expectations.
That has complicated the task of the Federal Reserve, which is closely watching numbers on employment, as well as those on inflation, to determine the timing and gravity of the first pandemic-era interest rate hike. The central bank slashed rates to almost zero after the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020, and has kept them there since.
The Federal Reserve now says the United States probably needs a series of rate hikes to counter inflation, as prices have soared from the lows of the pandemic due to trillions of dollars of federal relief spending, higher wage payouts and supply chain disruptions. The Federal Reserve’s target for inflation is 2% per year. But the US Consumer Price Index, an important barometer for inflation, grew by 7% in the year to December, expanding at its fastest rate since 1982.
The United States is experiencing one of the greatest transformations of its employment market as the coronavirus pandemic measures upended labor supply and work trends, putting employees’ demands above those of employers.
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