The number of jobs in the US fell slightly at the beginning of the year, but remains historically high, despite the Federal Reserve’s aggressive campaign to raise interest rates and cool the labor market.

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Department of Labor said Wednesday that there were more than 10.8 million job openings in January, down from the upwardly revised 11.2 million jobs reported the previous month. Economists polled by Refinitiv expected job openings to fall to 10.5 million.

Quantity available vacancies currently exceeds 10 million for 20 consecutive months; prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, the highest number on record was 7.6 million. There are approximately 1.7 jobs per unemployed American.

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Federal Reserve closely watching these figures, trying to assess the tension in the labor market and bring inflation under control. A stronger-than-expected reading indicates that the demand for employees still far exceeds the supply of available workers.


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The Fed responded to the inflationary crisis and extremely tight labor market by raising interest rates at the fastest rate in decades. So far, officials have approved eight consecutive rate hikes, raising the federal funds base rate by restrictive territory, and are showing no signs of pausing.

The central bank’s rate setting committee meets at the end of this month.

Markets initially expected the Fed to keep raising rates by a quarter point, but a slew of hotter-than-expected economic data has surfaced in recent weeks, including January Jobs Report and disappointing inflation data that pointed to widespread high consumer prices gave rise to the specter of a higher peak or sharper rise.


“Recent economic data came out stronger than expected, suggesting that the final level of interest rates is likely to be higher than previously expected,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday, speaking before the Senate Banking Committee. “If the data set indicated that a faster tightening is justified, we would be ready to increase the pace of rate hikes.”

Officials will be closely analyzing the February employment report on Friday morning for more information on the country’s labor market. The report is expected to show that the unemployment rate remains steady at 3.4%, a half-century low, and that employers have added 203,000 new jobs.

job fair in the USA

Meanwhile, the number of Americans who have quit their jobs has dropped slightly to 3.9 million, or about 2.5% of the workforce, indicating workers are still confident they can leave their jobs and find work elsewhere.

The job change came as a surprise to many workers over the past year, with about 49% of those who changed jobs seeing their real hourly wages rise faster than last year’s inflation, compared with 42% of workers who stayed in the same job. Atlanta Fed data.