United States job openings declined in July to a five-month low, signaling a pause in demand for workers ahead of a cooling in August payrolls growth that indicates the labor market may be gradually losing momentum.

  • Labor Department figures released last week show U.S. employers added 130,000 jobs in August as prior months were downwardly revised.
  • An easing in openings and smaller job growth in August signal the U.S. labor market’s slowdown is deepening as sluggish global demand and the trade war take a toll on the economy.
  • Federal Reserve officials, who are expected to make a second-straight interest rate cut at their meeting next week, have consistently said the labor market remains strong.
  • The fewest Americans in almost five months filed for unemployment benefits last week, signaling the broad labor market remains healthy despite cooling in some parts of the economy.  Jobless claims dropped by 15,000 to 204,000 in the week ended Sept. 7, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday that were below all estimates in Bloomberg’s survey of economists. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, decreased to 212,500, the lowest since late July. 

Key Insights

  • The biggest one-week decline in claims since May suggests employers are holding onto workers even in the face of waning business investment and heightened trade-policy uncertainty. While last week’s employment report showed monthly job gains have slowed, they’re still more than enough to accommodate growth in the labor force.