Job Openings Trend Downward

With stimulus money in the rearview and most kids back in school, people are heading back to work.

March 30, 2022

Young Lady Being Hired

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Labor Department reported a slight decrease in job openings and labor turnover in February compared to January, according to a news release. On the last business day of February, the number and rate of job openings was 11.266 million, compared with 11.283 million in January.

In February, the number of hires edged up to 6.7 million, with hiring increasing in construction jobs (+75,000) and decreasing in information (-29,000).

The number and rate of quits were little changed over January at 4.4 million. Quits increased in retail trade (+74,000); durable goods manufacturing (+22,000); and state and local government education (+14,000). Quits decreased in finance and insurance (-30,000).

The job openings report “signals that while the U.S. labor market remains hot, the temperature might be dropping. Demand for workers has leveled off, and the rate at which workers quit their jobs is no longer climbing,” Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, told the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at forecasting firm Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc., has a positive outlook on hiring in 2022, saying that it may get easier as more people seek work.

“A lot of government support that was helping people out is over—the government cheese isn’t coming anymore. They’ll need to work in order to support themselves,” Shapiro told the Journal. “And kids are back in school, so parents don’t have to worry about what to do with their kids.”

Fewer people are calling out of work for COVID-19 reasons, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, which suggests that the labor market is bouncing back. In early March, about 2.8 million people weren’t working because they were sick with COVID-19 or were caring for someone with the virus, down from almost 8.8 million in early January.

America’s “quit rate” reached a 20-year high last November, and low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work are the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year, according to a Pew Research survey. At least a third of respondents said each of these were major reasons why they left.

The struggle to find labor has some companies rethinking job qualifications, as well as the types of incentives used to attract employees. Many companies are dropping education requirements and background checks for applicants, and some companies no longer requires college graduates to submit their grades.

TXB Stores Inc. recently overhauled its hiring process from one that took five days from interview to starting on the job to another that has an employee interviewed, onboarded and started in two days flat. TXB completes the interview, background, hiring and onboarding in one day.

Fast-casual restaurant chain Dig is testing a four-day workweek with its full-time staff, and one company Tech allows its new hires to take two weeks of paid time off plus health care coverage before they start their job at the company.

Are you looking to hire? NACS has conducted extensive research on what people want in jobs to help retailers communicate the context of jobs by showcasing how they tie into what applicants care about most and what they treasure from previous jobs. Additionally, NACS Magazine dived into how to hire the Gen Z workforce—by understanding what this generation wants from an employer.

The pandemic has increased anxiety and tension for everyone, especially those on the frontlines. NACS Magazine discusses this serious topic in “Mental Health in the Workplace” in the September 2021 issue.