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Open Positions Continue to Exceed Pre-Pandemic Numbers

Despite recent interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve to combat inflation, the job market remains healthy for workers. The number of job openings in February increased to 8.8 million, up from a revised 8.7 million in January, indicating a growing labor market. This growth was in line with forecasters’ expectations and meant that for every unemployed worker, there were 1.4 job openings. Additionally, the number of people quitting their jobs increased slightly to 3.5 million and layoffs also rose to 1.7 million, showing that workers may have gained some bargaining power as higher quitting rates can indicate people leaving for better pay and working conditions.

In another report, factory orders rose 1.4% in February after a 4% decline in January, which was better than economists’ expectations of 1% growth. This growth was driven by an increase in durable goods orders and transportation equipment orders, which rose for the first time in two months. As a result, new orders for manufactured goods reached $576.8 billion in February, indicating that U.S manufacturing could be on the upswing following an expansion as shown by the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index reading. The report also showed that total shipments grew by 1.4% in the quarter, reversing a two-month losing streak, further suggesting that U.S manufacturing is improving.

By Samantha Jones

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