Tue Feb 06 09:00:00 CST 2018

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous Revised
Job Openings 5.900M 5.900M to 5.980M 5.811M 5.879M 5.978M

Job openings are clearly slowing, down 2.8 percent in December to 5.811 million which is well below Econoday's low estimate. This the 3rd monthly decline in 5 months and pulls down the year-on-year gain to what is still a healthy 4.9 percent. Hires are steady, down fractionally in the month to 5.488 million and keeping the spread with openings also steady, at 323,000.

Quits are on the rise, at 3.259 million for a 3.1 percent December gain that lift the quits rate by 1 tenth to 2.2 percent. This rate is still modest but upward movement here hints at rising confidence among workers to switch jobs in what could signal rising pressure for wages.

But it is the falloff in openings that headlines this report, suggesting that labor-market demand may in fact be cooling in what could be a welcome plus for an economy at or very near full employment.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
Job openings are high but did slip 0.8 percent to 5.879 million in the last JOLTS report for November. Hires also fell, down 1.9 percent to 5.488 million. Openings have been moving lower after peaking at 6.140 million in July, while hires, despite November's dip, have been picking up and are still near their expansion high which was set in October at 5.592 million. Econoday's consensus for December job openings is for a slight gain to 5.900 million.

The Labor Department's JOLTS report tracks monthly change in job openings and offers rates on hiring and quits. The reporting period lags other employment data including the employment situation report. The word JOLTS stands for Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Although lagging the release timing of the employment situation report by a month, JOLTS provides additional information on the labor market. The payroll survey in the employment situation report provides numbers on net job changes. JOLTS breaks down labor market data into pre-net changesâ€such as job openings, hires, and separations.