US JOLTS job openings expected to decrease slightly in December

  • The US JOLTS data will be watched closely by investors ahead of the Fed policy announcements.
  • Job openings are forecast to edge lower to 8.75 million on the last business day of December.
  • Further loosening in labor market conditions might not be enough to convince markets of a Fed rate cut in March.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) will be released on Tuesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The publication will provide data about the change in the number of job openings in December, alongside the number of layoffs and quits.

JOLTS data will be scrutinized by market participants and Federal Reserve (Fed) policymakers because it could provide valuable insights regarding the supply-demand dynamics in the labor market, a key factor impacting salaries and inflation. While job openings have been trending down during 2023 – a sign of cooling demand for labor – they remain above pre-pandemic levels.

What to expect in the next JOLTS report?

“Over the month, the number of hires and total separations decreased to 5.5 million and 5.3 million, respectively,” the BLS noted in its November JOLTS report and added: “Within separations, quits (3.5 million) edged down and layoffs and discharges (1.5 million) changed little.”

After declining steadily from 10.5 million to 8.85 million in the January-October period, job openings edged lower to 8.79 million in November. For the upcoming December data, markets expect another slight down tick to 8.75 million.  Meanwhile, Nonfarm Payrolls rose by 216,000 in December following November’s 170,000 increase.

The US Dollar (USD) started the new year on a bullish note. In January, the USD Index is up more than 2%, boosted by diminishing expectations for a Federal Reserve (Fed) rate reduction in March. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, the probability of a 25 basis points rate cut dropped from nearly 80% to 50%. 

FXStreet Analyst Eren Sengezer shares his view on the JOLTS Job Openings data and the potential market reaction:

“JOLTS Job Openings data for December could reaffirm loosening conditions in labor market, unless it unexpectedly rises toward 9.5-10 million range. Investors, however, could refrain from taking a large position based on this data, especially hours before the Fed’s monetary policy announcements. Nevertheless, the immediate reaction to a significant surprise in either direction could be straightforward and remain short-lived. A decline below 8 million in job openings could hurt the USD, while a big increase could provide a boost to the currency”

When will the JOLTS report be released and how could it affect EUR/USD?

Job openings numbers will be published at 15:00 GMT. Eren points out key technical levels to watch for EUR/USD ahead of JOLTS data:

“The 200-day Simple Moving Average and the Fibonacci 38.2% retracement of the October-December uptrend form a pivot level at 1.0850 for EUR/USD. In case this level remains intact as resistance, the pair could test 1.0780 (100-day SMA) and 1.0700 (Fibonacci 61.8% retracement) next. On the upside, 1.0950 (Fibonacci 23.6% retracement) and 1.1000 (psychological level, static level) could be set as bullish targets in case the pair stabilizes above 1.0850.”

Economic Indicator

United States JOLTS Job Openings

JOLTS Job Openings is a survey done by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to help measure job vacancies. It collects data from employers including retailers, manufacturers and different offices each month.

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Next release: 02/01/2024 15:00:00 GMT

Frequency: Monthly

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics