Judging by key headline numbers, the U.S. labor market remains in good shape. Unemployment remains below five percent and there are indications of faster wage growth. However, there are certain key metrics that suggest that the pace at which the job market has been improving is no longer accelerating.
Many of these measures come from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. This isn’t the Department’s primary job market report, but many economists follow it closely to better understand labor market dynamics. For instance, as indicated by writer Josh Zumbrun, over the past year, the pace of hiring has stopped improving.
The pace of hiring of course plunged during the recession, but by the end of 2015, the rate had climbed to a post-recession high. There hasn’t been much change in the hiring rate since. The rate at which people quit jobs has also been unchanged recently. During the recession, the so-called quit rate plunged, with people clinging to the jobs they had and having fewer opportunities to jump to new positions. By the end of 2015, this measure had climbed to 2.2 percent, but was stuck in a rut for nearly all of last year.