March 9, 2023
Ryan Secard

Separations are slowing, but the number of job openings is still higher than the number of people looking for work.
While job openings in the overall economy are falling, unfilled positions in manufacturing remain roughly stable. The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover report from the Department of Labor found that job openings in manufacturing actually increased from 797,000 to 803,000 while job openings in the total private economy fell from 10.1 million to 9.7 million between December of last year and January.

In a post on LinkedIn, Chief Economist for the National Association of Manufacturers Chad Moutray noted that job openings in manufacturing have averaged 844,750, “remaining well above pre-pandemic levels.”

Moutray also said that the economy as a whole is a job-seekers market, noting that the JOLTs report found 5,694,000 unemployed workers for every 100 job openings in the overall U.S. economy. “As such, there continued to be more job openings than people actively looking for work,” Moutray wrote.

Job openings in durable goods fell from 519 thousand to 476 thousand, according to preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics data, though hires fell slightly by about 10 thousand to 224 thousand hires.

Separations, which include when a worker quits, retires, or is laid off, rose by about 12 thousand workers between December and January, making the total estimated number of separations (218 thousand) almost equal to the number of new hires in durable goods.

Nondurable goods companies appear, based on the data, to be having more trouble filling available positions. Job openings at food manufacturers and other companies in that category rose by 50 thousand to 328 thousand. Hiring at nondurable companies fell by 22 thousand between December and January.

Despite the poor recruitment figures, nondurable goods companies performed slightly better than their durable goods peers at retaining employees in January, as total separations only rose by about 4 thousand.