Job Openings Up

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summery reported that the number of job openings in October was 3.7 million, basically the same as in September.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summery (JOLTS), reported on Tuesday that the number of job openings in October—one reflection of the health of the economy—was 3.7 million, basically the same as in September. But the total is considerably higher than it was at the technical end of the recession in June 2009, when it was 2.4 million. Year-over-year, job openings increased for construction, nondurable goods manufacturing, other services, and state and local government, but fell in wholesale trade.

The JOLTS hires rate was 3.2 percent in October, unchanged from the previous month. The number of hires in October was 4.3 million, which is somewhat more than at the technical end of the recession in June 2009, when the total was 3.7 percent.

The JOLTS quits rate is another measurement of the health of the job market, since people are more inclined to quit their jobs in a market that offers them possible new jobs. In October, the BLS said that the quits rate was unchanged for total employment and total private employment, and little changed for government employment. The number of quits was 2.1 million in October 2012, compared to 1.8 million at the end of the recession.

Gallup’s Measure of Economic Confidence down

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index came in at -16 for the week ending Dec. 9, down from -12 the previous week, the polling specialist reported on Tuesday. Confidence is now at its lowest level since the presidential election, but still high compared with most of 2012, especially August, when the reading was -27.

The index is based on more than 3,000 interviews each week, and consists of two measures—one assessing current economic conditions and the other the nation’s economic outlook. Eighteen percent of Americans say the economy is excellent or good, while 38 percent say it’s poor, resulting in a -20 current conditions rating, statistically unchanged from -19 the previous week.

Americans’ economic outlook accounted for the slip in confidence this past week. Forty-two percent said the economy is getting better, while 53 percent indicated that it is getting worse, resulting in a net score of -11, down from -5 the previous week. On the other hand, according to Gallup, the majority of Americans believe that the president and Congress will reach a budget agreement before Jan. 1, which might bolster confidence in the economy.

Trade deficit widens

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported on Tuesday that the trade deficit increased in October to $42.2 billion, compared with $40.3 billion. Exports were down $6.8 billion month-over-month, reflecting weaker demand in many parts of the world, but especially Europe, as the continent continues to be mired in deep recession. Imports were down as well, by $6.8 billion.

Wall Street had a fairly good day on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 78.56 points, or 0.6 percent. The S&P 500 was up 0.65 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 1.18 percent.