Job openings remain near record levels

4.3 million Americans, or about 2.8% of the workforce, quit their jobs in May

Job hunters are still in the driver's seat as the total number of openings remained elevated in May. 

The total number of job openings, per the JOLTS report, fell to 11.3 million by the end of May, less than the 11 million economists surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting.

The figure is down slightly from April's 11.4 million job openings and the record-high of 11.549 million in March, but still well above the 6.9 million job openings pre-pandemic as of February 2020. 

The largest decreases in job openings were in professional and business services (-325,000), durable goods manufacturing (-138,000), and nondurable goods manufacturing (-70,000). 

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said Wednesday that 4.3 million Americans, or about 2.8% of the workforce, quit their jobs in May, down slightly from the 4.4 million recorded in April, but well above the pre-pandemic level of about 3.6 million.

 The number of people quitting increased in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+19,000) and decreased in real estate and rental and leasing (-33,000) and in state and local government education (-19,000).


The latest jobs data comes as the Federal Reserve is working to tame scorching-hot inflation, which has driven consumer prices toward multi-decade highs and eaten into workers' wage gains. 

Last month, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points for the first time in nearly three decades. The move puts the key benchmark federal funds rate at a range between 1.50% to 1.75%, the highest since the pandemic began two years ago.

Officials also laid out an aggressive path of rate increases for the remainder of the year. Economic projections released after the Fed's two-day meeting showed policymakers expect interest rates to hit 3.4% by the end of 2022, which would be the highest level since 2008.

Federal Reserve Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, as he presents the Monetary Policy Report to the committee on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Newsroom)

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters at a press conference following the meeting that another increase of 75 basis points or 50 basis points is on the table for its July meeting. 


In addition to Wednesday's JOLTs report, investors will be keeping a close eye on the release of the June jobs report on Friday morning. 

Economists surveyed by Refinitiv are expecting the Labor Department to say that the U.S. economy added 268,000 new nonfarm jobs in June, down from the stronger-than-expected 390,000 in May. 

The unemployment rate is anticipated to hold steady at 3.6% for the third month in a row, just slightly above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5% in January and February 2020, which was the lowest since May 1969.

Fox Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report