The U.S. labor market lost steam in January and February, with job openings, hiring, and resignations all declining, according to the latest Labor Department data.
Job openings fell 4.3% in January and 2.4% in February to 7.3 million, the smallest number of openings since September. Hiring was flat in January and fell 2% in February. At the same time, layoffs and discharges plummeted 8.3% in February, after increasing 6.1% in January.
The total number of Americans quitting their jobs fell 2.3% in January and 1.4% in February, to another post-recession low. This indicates that for most workers, job security is improving.
The Labor Department numbers could be an indication of slowing economic growth. Job openings, hiring, and resignations tend to rise and fall with the economy, so the decrease could be a sign that companies are becoming more cautious.
On the other hand, the decrease may just be a blip in the data. It’s possible that businesses are simply taking a more cautious approach to staffing, waiting to see if the current economic climate remains strong before making any major hiring decisions.