Job Market Refuses to Soften, Fed Gets More Stuffing for Rate Hikes: Layoffs, Quits, Job Openings, Hires

Still a contorted labor market with massive churn and job hopping, but slightly less than in early 2022. Only retail is back to the old normal.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

At every press conference following the FOMC monster-rate-hike meetings, Chair Powell discussed the tight labor market: The imbalance between high demand for labor and the tight supply of labor. And some of the data points he normally cites were released today. Two of the most important ones — job openings and layoffs — tightened further. The others remains very tight.

This is based on what 21,000 businesses said about the number of job openings they have, the number of people they actually hired, the number of people they laid off, the number of people who quit, etc.

Job openings rose by 437,000, to 10.7 million seasonally adjusted, up by 51% from September 2019. Not seasonally adjusted, they rose by 306,000 to 10.7 million, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job openings increased in all major sectors except wholesale trade, government (mostly education), and manufacturing. But even in manufacturing, the number of unfilled openings, though it dipped, remained huge – up by 84% from three years ago, just slightly less huge than before.

Job openings had come down somewhat in the prior month, and there had been hopes that they would further track lower to show that the demand for labor might back off. But that didn’t happen, and instead, the number of unfilled jobs moved deeper into the astronomical zone.

Layoffs & discharges fell from already low levels to even lower levels, near the record lows in late 2021. Employers reported that they laid off 1.33 million people in September, down from 1.49 million in August, and down by 33% from September 2019.

Small scale layoffs, and most people were quickly rehired.

There have been a lot of stories in the news about layoffs at famous or infamous companies, including at the most speculative ones that had gone public with enormous hype and hoopla via SPAC merger or IPO, and whose stocks then imploded.

But they were mostly small-scale layoffs in the dozens or hundreds, and a few times a couple of thousand people. Among the big profitable companies, there were layoffs in some divisions, while other divisions still hired. This includes big tech. But it also includes companies like Ford, which has been implementing buyouts in its ICE division while hiring manically in its EV division.

And most people that were laid off found new jobs quickly, given the still enormous number of job openings across most industries. Many people already had a new job lined up by the time they lost their old job.

We see this confirmed by the actual number of people who filed for unemployment insurance with their state unemployment offices, which is reported weekly by the US Department of Labor. Last Thursday, the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, at 217,000, was in the same low range where it had been all year and below nearly all prior lows.

This confirms that most of the people who were laid off found a job so quickly or already had a new job lined up that they didn’t file for unemployment compensation.

For the labor market to soften meaningfully, we would have to see the number of unemployment claims rise above the 300,000 mark.

Voluntary “quits” dipped from August, but were still higher than in July, and remained in the astronomical zone, a sign of still massive churn and job hopping.

At 4.06 million, the number of workers who voluntarily quit jobs was still up by 18% from the already high levels of September 2019. But the declines off the peak are indicating that there is a little less confidence among employees that they might get a better job, or that the job offer that they have is actually a better job, and so there is a little less job hopping than earlier this year.

The number of new hires declined to 6.08 million people in September, but remained higher than in any but one month before the pandemic. Hiring is still handicapped by difficulties in actually being able to hire people away from other employers.

And employers may now also be a little less aggressive in offering higher pay to attract workers than in prior months, which could be another sign of a slight cooling of the red-hot labor market.

Most of the 1.33 million people who were laid off and most of the 4.06 million people who “quit” became part of the 6.08 million people who were hired by other employers.

The large number of “quits” and the large number of “hires” show that there is still a lot of churn and job-hopping, as workers can still arbitrage the tight labor market for better pay and benefits, or a better job in different industry. But here we can see that some of the pressures on the labor market are easing just a tad.

Job openings in major industry categories.

Professional and business services, a large industry category with 22.4 million employees in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Management of Companies and Enterprises; Administrative and Support, and Waste Management and Remediation Services.

  • Job openings: +104,000 to 1.92 million
  • From September 2019: + 53%

Information, a small category with about 3 million employees in web search portals, data processing, data transmission, information services, software publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting including over the Internet, and telecommunications. This is where some or the mediatized small-scale layoffs have been.

  • Job openings: +23,000 to 214,000
  • From September 2019: +20%

Healthcare and social assistance, a large category with about 21 million employees, set a new record in job openings, amid numerous reports on continued staffing shortages:

  • Job openings: +115,000 to 2.10 million
  • From September 2019: +88%

Leisure and hospitality, with about 16 million employees, amid numerous reports of hotels and restaurants still struggling with staff shortages:

  • Job openings: +234,000 to 1.61 million
  • From September 2019: +63%

Retail trade, with about 16 million employees. This sector has now normalized in terms of job openings.

  • Job openings: + 3,000 to 795,000
  • From September 2019: +7%

Education – as depicted by state & local government job openings, most of which are in education amid continued teacher shortages:

  • Job openings: -23,000 to 877,000
  • From September 2019: +40%

Manufacturing, with about 13 million employees:

  • Job openings: -40,000 to 806,000
  • From September 2019: +84%.

Construction, with nearly 8 million employees, in all types of construction, from single-family houses to powerplants:

  • Job openings: +36,000 to 422,000, the third-highest ever, behind only March and April 2022
  • Since September 2019: +27%

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  108 comments for “Job Market Refuses to Soften, Fed Gets More Stuffing for Rate Hikes: Layoffs, Quits, Job Openings, Hires

  1. MiTurn says:

    Undoubtedly this is a local phenomenon, but the local Burger King advertises on its exterior signage for workers. About the beginning of summer, they were advertising a starting wage of $17 an hour. Now the sign says $15 an hour.

    That’s quite a swing.

    • Taco Bell says they pay managers 100K, a case of luring away the small business competition? They are building a new TB, on the old site, and took it down to the dirt.

  2. andy says:

    I hope people prepared some liquidity during these boom times to withstand the next 3 years. Layoffs are just starting for WFHomers. Just when we thought you can have your cake and eat it too.

    • Harrold says:

      That’s not happening.

      • Alec says:

        I wouldn’t say not happening….many companies now require people back a few days a week instead of zero.

      • AD says:

        Mister Harrold, I thought and hoped this was the case.

        From what I’ve read in August this year such as in Fortune, Apple is calling back its employees to work 3 days out of the week in the office.

        Intel earnings conference last week including statements that Intel are laying off workers.

        The media are reporting Meta and Google are laying off people without any public announcements. Meta announced hiring freezes.

    • Bs(ini) says:

      Don’t see that happening either 4 children out of 4 in technical and sales roles wrk from home 60 percent or more. Tech energy and medical equipment are the three roles

      • El Katz says:

        Both son and DIL work from home. No threat of change for either.

        Son’s employer has a small office. DIL’s company closed their offices and get meeting space as needed. She’s a civil engineer.

        • andy says:

          And all those people before us thought they had to go to office for no good reason.

  3. andy says:

    Apple should fall off a cliff once this latest bear rally runs out of steam. I’m talking $90-100 in short order (3-4 months). Adding to Sept puts slowly.

    • MarMar says:

      Yes, I often find the best targets for puts are strong businesses with monopolies, excellent engineering, and lots of cash in the bank.

      • andy says:

        A monopoly, really? How did I ever manage to never buy an Apple product in my life. Also, if they are doing so well, why not raise the dividend from paltry 0.6%?

        • HowNow says:

          I think MarMar is sarcastically warning you that there are a multitude of easier targets than one of the strongest brand names, largest company in the country, and a bounty of cash. They may get taken down a few notches but look instead for a soon-to-implode gran-falloon hiding in plain sight.

        • andy says:

          HowNow, that’s not how puts work. Bigger bang for not going with the crowd. Everyone and their cousin are shorting obvious targets. You would be right last year, maybe.

    • Logan Kane says:

      Apple is egregiously overvalued.

      • Bs(ini) says:

        Apple overvalued ? Any analysis behind the statement ?
        At least wolf does not lob a statement without some txt to read? And I’m not disagreeing just would like a short basis for understanding because I don’t think the company is worth 150 a share. I bought my first iPhone in oct 2022 and I’m 65

        • andy says:

          You can get 5% FDIC insured CD right now. Why buy any stock?
          Let’s you hear your argument.

        • Anthony A. says:

          ^^^^^ That’s my plan going forward….Cd’s , T bills and muni bonds. I’m late 70’s and friends and family are dropping dead around me. No more casino playing.

  4. Michael Engel says:

    Mfg 13 million employees out of 165 millions in the labor force,
    or 7.8%.
    Construction 8 million employees from housing to power plants and road works, 4.8% of the labor force.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Labor force includes people who are not working but are looking for a job. In terms people who are employed by employers (not self employed), the number is 153 million. So of the total number of people employed by employers, about 8.5% are employed by manufacturers.

      Manufacturing is largely automated, and many manufacturing employees are technically skilled and hard to find. The classic unskilled manufacturing jobs are thinning out.

      • Michael Engel says:


        • joedidee says:

          businesses need to start offering entry level positions(sweeping floors) while they get trained in profession at employers dime
          but we can’t fix greedy companies who are short sighted

        • Nissanfan says:


          Those days are long over. Firstly, manufacturing was deemed as “passé” by politicians of both factions for decades. Second, as soon as you dedicate to training those individuals, they hop the fence in a month or two, because now they have gained an entry level experience on your dime and due to current labor market shortage, they can get more pay right away. Then they again hop the fence, until they’ll get stuck somewhere, because their job hopping got too obvious and their pay demands are simply ridiculous.

          In the current labor market it is a waste of everybody’s time. I much rather spend time on automating process as much as possible and hire less people, but experienced and pay them more. Heck, the other day at Walmart, I saw floor scrubber that operated by itself around aisles (I got scarred, because I thought a janitor just let it loose somehow at first), so even janitors might become redundant.

      • JayW says:

        “For the labor market to soften meaningfully, we would have to see the number of unemployment claims rise above the 300,000 mark.”

        Agree, but there’s absolutely no guess how long that’s going to take. Can’t wait for the October numbers and then December. People are acting like the Fed will slightly pivot by reducing down to 50 basis points in December. Time will tell, but let’s prepare for the worst, another 75.

        At some point, there’s got to be a 2-3K point one day drop in the dow.

        • JayW says:

          Meant to say October & Nov. Oops!

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The Fed projected in its September meeting dot plot that it would do 50 in Dec and 25 in January, getting close to 5%, which shocked the markets. If it does even more, it would be pivot in a more hawkish direction, LOL

          If it does 50 and then 25, it would just follow its own published projections.

      • NBay says:

        When I worked at the P/O, the machines I worked on LITERALLY eliminated several hundred thousand Clerk, Mailhandler, and Carrier jobs. ’85 to around 2000. And they were eliminating more when I left in 2002, as banks of 20-30 Silicon Graphics dual processor computers became able to read handwriting or the strange abbreviations people use that I couldn’t. And we were a small GMF. In fact, it’s not a GMF anymore, just a delivery barcode center, pre sorting all carrier routes to EXACT delivery sequence.
        They just come in and hit the streets. Oakland GMF is gone, too.
        All dependent on SF GMF, and remaining others around the country.

  5. Poor like you says:

    The good times are still rolling, but now they’re rolling downhill.

  6. The JOLTs rattled the markets. Puts the FED in a bind. Now it’s PIVOT or DIVOT (take a big chunk out of the economy)…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Investors need to be adults about this, and not have this silly sense of entitlement. Inflation is raging because of years of money-printing and interest-rate repression. The Everything Bubble was created by the Fed’s money-printing and interest-rate repression, and now we’ve got the results: raging inflation. And the Fed is undoing some of the damage it had done before, and so the Everything Bubble is unwinding, even while the economy is still plodding along just fine, and assets are getting downwardly repriced as rates are rising, and that’s a good thing. Bubbles always blow up. An orderly deflation of the Everything Bubble is better than a messy blowup. But either one of them is better than raging inflation.

      • Danno says:

        “Investor need to be adults about this…..”

        Most “investors” who have been spoon fed billions in stimulus, enabling them to make billions themselves are now like a child who has been spoiled rotten and never told no.

        I fear the FED will have to break the cycle by raising rates so high something breaks to finally bring some much needed maturity to “investors”.

        Thank you Wolf for being the voice of sanity to those still dreaming of a pivot.

      • perpetual perp says:

        Add to the inflation all the tax breaks and tax dodges given the upper class the past 40 years. It’s at minimum, a $26 trillion inflationary surge in money (just between Bush, Obama and Trump). Add it up over all the years and it’s plenty large enough to create sky high asset prices in every imaginable category. A classic inflation fighting tool is to raise taxes. But we don’t do that anymore (until Biden, who is putting in a 1% wealth tax).

  7. Michael Engel says:

    The data is good for the Fed, but JP will not destroy Black Friday.

    • Good for the Fed to stay on course with their maniacal rate hikes which are destroying the yield curve (pushing savers to the short end) where they still earn only half the rate of inflation. Clearly S&L conditions exist when deposit rates exceed lending rates. The only austerity they’ve going to get is on Main street where all you are entitled to is three hots and a cot.

    • BS (ini) says:

      No Black Friday the key for retailers correct my Engel great thought process!

  8. I guess everyone is expecting another.75% rate hike. Real rates remain deeply negative. Fed watchers will be on tenterhooks, awaiting any hint of future easing of the pace.

  9. Harrold says:

    This Q stuff is just getting plain boring. Don’t you get tired of posting it?

    • toucheofgrey says:

      *Spitting out milk laughing

    • crazytown says:

      I do not understand what Harrold’s comment means. I agree that service sector jobs are going to need some serious wage “inflation” which will result in continued cuts in service. So much of service sector is luxury (even eating out) and part of luxury is enjoying good service. Who is going to want to grab a business lunch for 4, drop $150, and have slow service (been there, done that recently). So my thesis is that a lot of the service sector is going to be losing its value proposition too.

      A bubble nobody talks about is car washes. I don’t know how more and more and more keep getting built everywhere they can cram them in, but people apparently love signing up for monthly “unlimited” wash packages and scratching up their clearcoat since none of the washes use enough water to properly rinse off the brushes between vehicles.

      • Joe says:

        Car washes are also EXCELLENT for covering illegal activity. Lots of cash can end up in the touch less ones, and so almost any amount can be laundered efficiently. Drugs are currently a booming business, and building a new (or buying an existing) touch less car wash is a no-brainer.

      • Lili Von Schtupp says:

        Heisenberg effect. Never underestimate the influence of a good TV series. Car washes cropped up here as well in recent years. Given most people pay by credit, probably less about money laundering and more for the relatively passive income.

        Similarly there are at least two boys named Jax in each of my kids’ elementary school classes, more in their grades, two Gemmas were in their daycare. Plenty of MCs cruising down the local highways on the weekends in the last decade. If people would name their kids after a popular series its not a stretch to think they’d be influenced into a small business venture.

    • El Katz says:

      Don’t insult Stephen. You might be surprised that what he posted isn’t “Q stuff”. There is some statistical basis from credible sources to that effect. It’s just that MSNBS doesn’t cover it.

      Onto the FL grocery stuff: I’m in FL as my sister had a health incident. Went to the local Publix to get some Hellman’s mayo (among other things). Their price? $8.69 for a 30 oz jar. In my home state of AZ, the same product is $5.75. The food prices here (central FL – not hurricane gouging related) are astronomical. Boar’s Head deli products are 20% higher than AZ: No discounts on junk food (I paid $1.97 per bag for cheezy poofs in AZ just before I left…. here on the next day they were full price – or over double). Tomatoes? $.97 cents / pound for Roma’s in AZ. Here? $2.99.

      • Seba says:

        “Don’t insult Stephen. You might be surprised that what he posted isn’t “Q stuff”. There is some statistical basis from credible sources to that effect. It’s just that MSNBS doesn’t cover it.”

        Which credible sources and what stats? Would help if you named them so we could find out for ourselves. Probably not the kind of stuff Wolf wants to see here but if this kind of post stays up in comments it’s only fair we ask for the source.

        If you do provide this, thanks in advance, always interested to read no matter what this turns out to be in the end.

    • two beers says:

      I do not understand what Harrold’s comment means.

      It’s called “throwing shade” or “gaslighting,” in lieu of an actual rebuttal.

  10. Not Sure says:

    “Information, a small category with about 3 million employees … where some or the mediatized small-scale layoffs have been.”

    Based on what I see on the BLS website, it seems like this category, along with maybe some portion of Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (part of Professional and Business Services) would be where the majority of layoffs will occur as cash-furnace tech companies hit the end of their shrinking runways.

    So the popping of this tech bubble may not end up having a catastrophic impact on unemployment by itself. Many of the cash burners on the imploded stocks list may have (or may have had) large valuations, but they don’t actually employ very many people. This or that company laying off a couple hundred, or even a couple thousand people here or there just doesn’t make that big of a dent in the overall labor market.

    Eyeballing these graphs to get the bigger picture, it looks like both quits and hires peaked well over a year ago, and the trend for openings has been falling fairly quickly over the last half of 2022… Just goes to illustrate the lag times involved between policy changes and meaningful outcomes. Maybe it would actually be a good thing for the Fed to taper their rate hikes to pause for a while and let things sink in. They still have QT to lean on for some period of time until something blows up “unexpectedly” and causes lending to freeze.

    • two beers says:

      “This or that company laying off a couple hundred, or even a couple thousand people here or there just doesn’t make that big of a dent in the overall labor market.”

      Maybe not in most of the country, but in the Bay Area, where that sector is highly over-represented (and where it displaced many workers in other sectors that won’t be anywhere nearly as hard hit), I think it will have, er, seismic consequences. 😱

      • Hmmmmmm says:

        It will be a repeat of 2001, back when I was in tech in the Bay Area. It will feel like a depression if you’re in tech in the Bay Area, with massive carnage, but the rest of the country and economy will barely notice.

        Many of the “big tech companies” are no different from the cash furnaces of the Dot Com bubble; the only difference is the ability for them to grow massive on the back of 0% interest rates and yield chasers willing to give them big bales of cash to set alight.

        Huge cash destroyers like Uber are going to have some hard times. So will a lot of other private “unicorns” who have large employee populations but lousy cash flow.

  11. Halibut says:

    Those job openings in construction are surprising to me. I can’t imagine any demand for office, retail or warehouse space and it’s too expensive to build new SFHs.

    Also, I thought America was closing powerplants, not building them??

    • So Anyway says:

      Can’t speak to the powerplant topic, however, here in central Ohio there has been a big demand for all trades, short-haul drivers, etc. in terms of residential, commercial, and industrial construction. And this was before the pandemic. Throw the Intel, Honda, and several other projects, that demand continues to grow.

    • Gattopardo says:

      I think construction job losses will be on a really long lag. Who is going to cancel their build once started? If even 20% did get canceled after starting, 80% will plod on, and some will be in an even bigger hurry than usual to get done and sold/leased, consuming more labor than usual. The only guys who would be starting to feel the lower demand would be the first jobs in the process — survey, civil, structural, grading, etc. They are still all busy in my area as far as I can tell. The later stage guys, drywall, etc., they may not even have noticed anything changing yet. Might not for 6+ months.

    • The wealth effect is a Ponzi scheme says:

      There are at least 15 cranes up in Boston right now. Still a ton of buildings going up w money that was borrowed in the past 4 years. I do industrial HVAC and receive multiple job offers a month promising me the world. All the guys I work with are having the same experience. Major corporations that employ us have relaxed or abandoned their zero tolerance driving record/criminal back ground policies because they are so desperate for skilled labor.

      We live in a nicer suburb north of the city. There’s multiple dumpsters for ongoing renovations on every street in my town. We don’t go out much because our kids are very young but everywhere my wife and I take the kids is absolutely packed on weekends. Restaurants have lines out the door. It’s pretty alarming to see everyone going full tilt still spending money as fast as they can.

      The only thing I have noticed is that a ton of homes have gone on the market and aren’t being sold in 1 weekend. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

    • JK says:

      I’n friends with an Indian guy who knows many Indian guys that work tech jobs. They’re buying homes. They have good jobs, stock options and many times live extended family. They consider the home an investment that will be worth more down the road.

      If you have two people making decent income, they can afford a home even with higher interest rates. Drop the mortgage from 30 years to 15 if possible to lower the rates and pay away. Refi later if rates drop.

      Also, I still lots of posting for jobs. IDK if the interest rates will affect jobs later down the road, but plenty of “Help Wanted” signs and even on work vehicles.

  12. Jon says:

    Yesterday I was unable to get into Treasury Direct. The website had mentioned that there was an unprecedented number of I Bond purchases. I realized that yesterday was the end of the month and there was a rush. Today it was just fine.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      yes, that was kind of funny. In Oct, they sold a record volume of I bonds, $9 billion!!! Americans know when there’s a deal.

      Unfortunately, I think some buyers think that the 9.6% rate will stay with the bond for 30 years, but it’s a variable rate, and it lasts only 6 months, and then it goes to wherever the new rate will be.

  13. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    Wow, the healthcare/sa industry which is sucking our country dry, still needs over 2 million positions filled!

    • JK says:

      I work medical part time these days, but agree it’s over priced. Really though, the American Government’s yearly defense budget is what is sucking the country dry.

      It’s currently at almost three quarters of a trillion dollars PER YEAR.

    • Lili Von Schtupp says:

      Health care personnel are dropping out, either retiring or taking non clinical jobs. The media hypes up the physical and emotional burnout, but stops short of mentioning the legal professional and personal liability of being an HCP in the US.

      Healthcare industry is seeking record profits while kneecapping HCPs from delivering quality care via low wage, understaffing, insurance red tape, plus the politically divisive laws. No one wants to lose a hard earned license/career, pay damages or even end up in jail because of medical error or political snaffu. Patients suffer, everyone complains, but few want to do the job and sadly the industry is in no immediate rush to reform.

      Teaching profession is not far behind. Strange days.

      • Cold in the Midwest says:

        Good points Lili. Another factor in the dissatisfaction and burnout of front line health care workers is that some are pressured to sell health care services to patients – even if the medical evidence is minimal that the service is needed.

        I had that experience a while back with a pulmonologist – he wanted me to get an exercise stress test. I pressed him on why he thought such a test was needed. He said I might have some rare form of asthma. I told him we have no history of asthma in our family, I am a non-smoker and he had said himself during the appointment that my lungs sounded fine.

        Long story short – I’m convinced he was under pressure to sell more medical services to patients even if the medical evidence for getting those services was questionable. There really was a “used car salesman” feel to his recommendation.

        One other point – long covid is also contributing to the tightness of the labor market. The symptoms of brain fog, severe fatigue etc. can be incapacitating. The CDC estimates that between 8 and 23 million people in the US now have long covid.

        • Lili Von Schtupp says:

          With so many on Medicaid, and yet Medicaid reimbursements so painfully low (think a few dollars a visit for a couple hundred dollars’ work). Many Medicaid patients have difficulty locating quality primary care for this reason. Then you have never ending take-backs of payment, audits and reaudits and more audits after those (both government and commercial insurers), quality measures affecting reimbursement while insurance companies deny the tests and facilities understaff, making care that lead to better outcomes (ya know, quality) difficult to achieve, its a sh*tshow. Doctors can’t afford to stay in business. The private insurers are bleeding the industry dry.

          And rents on medical offices are insane. With the consolidation of healthcare, big networks will buy up local medical office space and let it sit empty to prevent competition from moving in.

          A la carte and subscription healthcare through independent practices may be the best way to go, if you can find it and then afford it, that is.

          Just avoid pools and shares at all costs, big among certain religious groups but they seldom pay out and usually not enough to cover costs or even match what you pay in.

  14. Depth Charge says:

    Since the FED has morphed into a poor and middle class wealth strip-mining entity, I’m wondering if there isn’t some way to start clawing some of this back. For instance, how about we start stripping the wealth of bankers? I’d say Ben Bernanke would look rather smashing in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store coat, huddled next to a trash can fire in downtown NYC. I know, a guy can dream.

    • Swamp Creature says:


      Bernanke used to wait on tables. I think we owe it to him to let him go back to his old job. Let him get a taste of the what the working class pions have to put up with because of all of his Bull s$it.

  15. Phoenix_Ikki says:

    Good…looks like all the boxes are checked for Papa Powell to unload once again on the pivot narrative come tomorrow. Stock market still up, employment still really tight, home prices still technically up YoY (never mind the MoM decline eroding the YoY) the reverse of wealth effect not even on the radar for most upper middle class household..

    With all these boxes check, Powell is behind even hiking as expected 75pts and if he does anything less, then be prepare to see someone with little creditability goes from little to negative in a NY min, although the market will cheer him on as the next saint.

    • DawnsEarlyLight says:

      Screw the minuscule FFR increases, the damage is already done. The real culprit is the Fed’s balance sheet.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        With the 3 month t-bill’s rapidly increasing rate, a 100 basis points FFR increase is certainly possible.

  16. THEWILLMAN says:

    If I hire someone for $10,000 per month and inflation is 1% per month that’s a better place to spend than just about any other OPEX where the cost would increase by 1% per month.

    This is a sign of inflation expectations rising imo.

  17. RickV says:

    I remember a time similar to this in 2001 or 2002. We were coming up to annual salary reviews for professional workers at year end. All we workers had to do was mention the great salary increases others were getting and the managers freaked. The last thing they wanted to do was to try to hire new employees in this environment. Got like a 10-12% increase that year. I would expect a big jump in wage increases for Dec/Jan.

    • Flea says:

      Workers have been manipulated = low wages for decades,while Ivy League stold company profits. BUY BaCK of stocks ,time to pay for labor

  18. All Good Here Mate says:

    Wolf, a question- You have previously mentioned these results are from 21,000 or so surveys from the government out to various businesses. My specific question is- how serious do you believe respondents complete the survey? We see various political polling be wrong quite a bit the last number of years, and so i am curious if there is a bit of pencil-whipping going on with the answers. Whether it be quits, job openings, or any of the data. Does the government offer any type of payment or benefits for accurate data? I’m not doubting the results, and actually see the same in my line of work to some extent, but as everyone well knows, if you put garbage into an equation, you get garbage out. Just wondering.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The Census Bureau does those surveys for the other government agencies. I got one of those surveys for my company, on a range of topics… they ask a bunch of questions while they’re at it that feed into various data releases. They send you a postcard addressed to the business with a login. And the post card reminds you that you HAVE to answer the survey to keep the random sample intact. I think they used the word “compelled.” And then you go to the website and do the survey online. It’s well done.

      Most businesses take this seriously because they also benefit from the results. I take them seriously. I know a couple of other people with bigger companies that got them, and they take them seriously. This is not the internet survey crap. It’s your civic duty to take these surveys seriously, and everyone benefits if you do. People who run businesses understand that.

  19. El Katz says:

    Ford announced a program to weed out the “quiet quitters”. IIRC, anyone with over 8 years at Ford and identified with “performance issues” are given two choices…. take a package or get fired and take your chances.

    Looks like Ford decided to cut the dead wood…..

    Coming soon to a company near you.

    • Hmmmmmm says:

      Ford is quietly quitting the internal combustion business. Their “weeding out” is an effort to downsize the legacy ICE business to zero by 2035, and it’s unlikely to be something that is broadly replicated (except in industries being severely disrupted or anticipated to shrink to zero).

  20. Swamp Creature says:

    Just hired some landscapers from Hondurus for a major project. Paid them in cool, cold, cash. Ms Swamp just went to her hairdresser who was operating out of her home. Paid her in cash. I wonder how much of this labor market is getting reported if it is reported at all. The data on labor reported by the government is total BS.

  21. Swamp Creature says:

    By the way these Honduran dudes that did my landscaping/retaining wall project did one hell of a job. None of them spoke a word of English, except the supervisor. They worked hard, and completed the job for 1/2 the rate of a commercial American company. I even got my crooked ins company to pay for the work. This is the future of the American workforce. They want too much money and are lazy and can’t even do the work.

    • Gattopardo says:

      That’s nothing new, Swamper. At least here in Southernmost So Cal. Got to love free labor markets.

      I’m sure someone will pipe in and complain that “they’re stealin’ awrr jobs!” No, they aren’t, because a lot of these projects wouldn’t get done at the non-Honduran price.

      • Old school says:

        I will pipe up and say it’s very tough for a small business that operates legally to compete with cash businesses that employee illegals for labor.

        I have a specific example which is residential roofing. I saw the quotes and I know who was using illegal labor. I know who got the job. The roof had to be done so it wasn’t an optional landscaping project.

      • Depth Charge says:

        “Got to love free labor markets.”

        If these illegals don’t have a business license and insurance, and one of them gets hurt on your property, guess who’s on the hook for it? Sí, señor, eres tú. And don’t think they don’t know that.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          The dudes I hired were legal all the way. They had all the licenses and documentation and still charged 1/2 or 2/3rds of the cost of large commercial contractors. The difference is they had low overhead, were paid in cash, and had employees that worked, and had referrals up the wazooo. I’m using them again.

    • Will M says:

      Well considering a commercial American company is required to
      pay taxes and carry insurance. I would expect their costs to be higher. What you managed to do in reducing your cost , is to
      increase the burden onto other taxpayers. Who do you think pays
      to provide the social services for the legal and illegal workers who are paid under the table ?

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Mitt Romney hired illegals to do his landscaping. And he was running for president.

    • ru82 says:

      Did you turn then into ICE when they were finished?

      • HowNow says:

        If you turn them in the day before payday, you really make out like a bandit. Tyson Foods was doing that. Enjoy your Chicken McNuggets.

    • DawnsEarlyLight says:

      Future work force? Where have you been for the last 30 years?

    • Valerie from Australia says:

      Swamp Creature – How proud you must be of yourself, exploiting vulnerable people and not paying your fair share of taxes to boot. As for me, I don’t admire you at all.

      And Wolf, you will probably delete this comment but I just had to say something about this despicable behaviour.

      No hard feelings. Your blog, your call.

      • Swamp Creature says:


        ” exploiting vulnerable people????? ”

        We drove 20 miles to my spouse’s hairdresser and paid her $85 at her home salon for a complete hair treatment for 2 hours of work. That’s over $40/hour. She was so glad to get the business.

        How is that exploiting vulnerable people?

      • Swamp Creature says:


        ” exploiting vulnerable people????? ”

        I would add that the Honduran dudes were paid $1,200 for 6 hours of work. Let’s see 3 dudes, 6 hours = 18 man hours. That comes to $66/hour. I suppose I was exploiting them too.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        I noticed there was no response from Valerie from Australia to my rebuttal comments.

        I think I was the one being exploited. Paying top dollar for services. The only reason I did that was because I liked the people, and they did great work.

  22. Old school says:

    Labor market doesn’t crash til the bottom of the ninth inning.

  23. bulfinch says:

    Ah, the lazy entitled quiet-quitting American canard. First it was the dropouts, then slackers, then…just millennials.

    I’ve been hearing self-hating humans trying to sell these same old rags n bones since time immemorial. Tell me – if we’re collectively afflicted by this accursed lassitude, why then did the World Economic Forum report last month how we unskilled layabouts enjoy one of the longest workweeks in the world compared to our international counterparts? We make it onto several other lists of top ten overworked nations as well.

    Fact is, the 21st century American workforce works longer hours than ever before, struggle harder to disconnect from their work and take less time off than previous generations. Remuneration is also way down in the toilet compared to previous generations and other industrialized nations today.

    Time to cobble together some other kind of rationalization to assuage the shame one may struggle with when screwing undocumented foreign labor — that English speaking foreman is likely collecting “rent” on those poor souls doing the work to the tune of 4% — at least that was the case as prosecuted by the office of U.S. Attorney Maria Lopez (Middle District Florida) a few years back. It’s plain label exploitation and you cant square it by saying Americans are just too uppity and lazy to do the work of these rugged, honorable Hondurans.

    Americans simply want to be fairly compensated for breaking their backs or for harnessing their brainfolds to process data day in/out.

    • Valerie from Australia says:

      Amen to that! You said it far better than I could have.

      • Gattopardo says:

        Said what? He got the principle fact wrong: these guys were documented, legal. Not exploited. NO ONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT ILLEGAL LABOR. They were not somehow displacing others who are legal. Good for the Hondo dudes. Swamp might not have done the job at any higher price, so this may mean that he kept the Hondos from doing OTHER work that would have undermined the rest of the labor pool.

        All of you looking down your nose at Swamp…do you buy stuff from Amazon? How is that different from using the lowest priced legal contractor?

    • HowNow says:

      Well said. It’s interesting to see how people rationalize their selfishness.

    • Hooya says:

      All hail this generation’s Woodie Guthrie!

  24. SeattleTechie says:

    I can comment on tech. Google “trueup layoffs” and look at the site.

    Tech job market is shaky at best. Stocks have fallen more than average so there are layoffs in companies like Microsoft and oracle. Startup layoffs are plenty and everyday. Job Openings are down 45% from peak. And rising rates hit these companies more. I expect it to continue for all of 2023 and possibly get a lot worse. And I am not even taking my own job for granted. I don’t think anyone working in tech should.

  25. Varughese says:


    If the labour market remains like this whatever Powell do to bring price stability will be in vain. I guess, a strong job market like this is adding to services inflation also (not sure). But the worst scenario is the hawks always shows these data and says everything is truly well in the economy. That indeed inflates the assets further.

    If Powell actually wants the inflation to come to their target level, is these 75 basis points hikes doing anything?

    Remember when Ruble crashed, the Russian central bank went with a huge bp jump. Usually a big drop or hike of rates is what central bank do to control inflation/deflation, isn’t it. Do a gradual move does any good for them?

    In anycase, the markets tank the moment he hikes and after three days the market starts going up on optimism that he will pivot.

    I think he needs to hike it by 200 basis point one time, not sure whether the economy and all the credit drawing people and institutions have can take that jump.

    Maybe I am wrong completely here, but FED is losing this game big time.

  26. Stonedwino says:

    Letting Covid rip has immolated the labor market & continues to destroy the labor market, since tens of millions are debilitated by a whole host of Long Covid ailments…and people of all ages are now just dropping dead on a daily basis. FED may end up completely destroying the world economy before they come to the realization that Covid is still in charge of the labor market, creating a secular labor shortage ( don’t forget even legal immigration into the US has been massively curtailed since 2016 and continues to be). That equates to about 3.5 million immigrants that did not come in, adding to the labor pool problems, which are only going to get worse as we continue to let Covid rip. China is playing the long game here with their zero Covid…

  27. Jdog says:

    The spring will be when the job market is tested. It will be then that construction in most states usually starts back up, and if housing sales do not pick up, then neither will construction related industries.

  28. Ed C says:

    10 years ago, when I was a 62 year old engineer, they were doing everything they could to make me want to quit. They succeeded. Now they want me back, with my tired 72 year old brain? No thanks. I am out of the labor market and I’m not coming back.

  29. Jdog says:

    Attempting to use employment numbers to judge the health of the economy is problematic. Many people now have more than one job, and the current economy is surely pressuring some retired people back into at least part time employment to make ends meet, as inflation outpaces their retirement income. Neither of these are indications of prosperity.

  30. Depth Charge says:

    Now we have Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown excoriating Powell and demanding he stop raising rates. I thought Dems were for the little guy? Now they want to continue destroying the working class and poor through inflation? Weird.

    • Not Sure says:

      Our two party system is an illusion… Simply one party with two PR departments. Politicians are in it for themselves, regardless of their party. These people hold a lot of asset wealth, but unlike you and me, they get to speak face to face with the power-brokers. If that fails, they can simply make laws and enact programs to their own benefit. Even if Powell does indeed turn out to be the 2nd coming of Volcker and holds his ground over the long term (doubtful), it’s only a matter of time before the politicians exert their vote-buying power of the purse via programs, debt forbearance/forgiveness, and whatever else they cook up next.

  31. George W says:

    There is no labor shortage, it is just noise!

    Sorry, the numbers just lie…

    Amazon, never has a shortage of drivers, no matter the conditions.
    A 2% unemployment rate in Utah, please…

    Fedex, still advertises for package handlers, drive 20 miles for a 4 hour shift, then drive back to your palace under a bridge.

    McDonalds and the rest offer the same, work the peak shift and then crawl back under your rock. We will call you when we need you.

    There is no labor shortage!

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