The number of job openings fell by 284,000 to 7.009 million in September, well below Econoday's range of expectations. The surprisingly steep drop was inflated by a sharp upward revision to August job openings from 7.136 million to 7.293 million. September's decline also shaved the year-on-year job openings gain to 12.5 percent, down sharply from 18.1 percent in the prior month.
Meanwhile the number of hires in September fell to 5.744 million after reaching a revised series high of 5.906 million in August. The gap between openings and hires, which had been widening in previous months and reached a record high of 1.386 million in August, shrank in September, albeit to a still wide 1.265 million.
But the quits rate, previously described as "elevated" by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and regarded as a precursor of wage pressures, remained at 17-year highs of 2.4 percent.
Wage increase pressure may also be indicated by the fact that job openings in September continued to outnumber by more than a million the number of unemployed actively seeking work, which stood at 5.964 million according to the September Employment Situation report. But this unusual gap, which first opened up in March and has been steadily increasing, also confirms regional manufacturing surveys pointing to a lack of skills in the available labor force, a difficulty which may be holding back business expansion as well as, at least for the time being, wage inflation.
The gap between demand for labor and supply for labor has been widening dramatically and pointing to the risk of wage inflation. Forecasters see job openings holding steady at 7.110 million vs 7.136 million in August. Quits, which are tracked as an indication for wage inflation, look like they may finally be picking up.