September: JOLTS, jobs, and java heads into Labor Day with the latest numbers

Rebecca Warren and Jason Cerrato head into Labor Day weekend looking at the latest JOLTs and jobs numbers for July and August.

September: JOLTS, jobs, and java heads into Labor Day with the latest numbers

Welcome to our monthly video series on the jobs reports featuring our Director of Customer Success Rebecca Warren (filling in for Chief Economist Sania Khan) and Senior Director, Product Marketing, Jason Cerrato. Every Friday morning after the reports are released, grab a cup of coffee and join them for the latest on the jobs numbers.

Things are finally cooling off out there — and we’re not just talking about the weather.

The U.S. jobs market is slightly cooling according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report (JOLTS) released this week. The number of job openings dropped to 8.8 million in July — the lowest that number’s been since March 2021. 

It’s a welcome change since the tumultuous layoffs of 2022 and early 2023, with signs that the employment market is finally settling down. With the number of hires and total separations changing little, at 5.8 million and 5.5 million respectively, and quits slightly decreasing to 3.5 million, and layoffs/discharges changing little at 1.6 million, the market is appearing to stabilize. 

“At the very least, today’s report was somewhat calming, compared to some previous reports, because a lot of things seem to be very stable and spread out across industries,” Cerrato said. “And we’re heading into the fall, so hopefully, we’re taking this as some positive signs.” 

It’s also a sign that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool inflation are working, but the jobs markets and the economy remain relatively healthy. And it’s still a workers’ market — there are about 1.5 jobs open for every unemployed worker. 

The biggest losers in the number of job openings were professional and business services; health care and social assistance; and state and local government, excluding education. Job openings increased in information, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities. 

The BLS’ Employment Situation Summary, or jobs report, shows that employers added 187,000 jobs in August, with the unemployment rate rising by 0.3% to 3.8%. The number of unemployed people in the U.S. increased by 514,000 to 6.4 million. Health care, leisure and hospitality, social assistance, and construction were the largest gainers, while transportation and warehousing declined. 

As movement on the U.S. jobs front seems to be taking at least one more summer break, Warren noted that hiring might not be too far off in the future — and many organizations that cut their recruiting staff at the beginning of the downturn will need to hire those people again soon.

“It’s still rough out there for folks to find the right gigs,” Warren said. “We stopped hiring, we got rid of all of the TA folks, then we say, ‘dang, we need our TA folks back’ as we start hiring. …I wish we could figure out how to repurpose folks inside of organizations and use the skills that they have to get them into other places.”

Here are some more of our expert’s takeaways from the reports:

  • We appear to have entered a period of few changes and some stability, with the jobs market cooling slightly.
  • It’s still a workers’ market out there — with 1.5 jobs for every unemployed person.
  • This period of stability is the perfect time to start thinking about talent planning ahead. With skills at the core of any strategy, talent and business leaders can think about how to buy, build, or borrow the talent they need to optimize operations, instead of falling into the volatile hire-fire cycle again.

Watch Jason and Rebecca’s entire conversation here:

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