Will This Weak Economic Indicator Affect the Presidential Election?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor released the September job openings and labor turnover report on election day. The report indicates a slightly lower level of demand for labor, and a slightly lower rate of hiring, casting a negative light on other economic indicators such as home prices that have been positive lately.

The number of job openings on the last business day of September ticked down to 3.5 million from 3.6 million in August. Education and health services was one of thew few industries where the number of openings increased.

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The preliminary hire rate for September came in at 3.1 percent, or 4.1 million, down from 3.3 percent, or 4.4 million in August. The hire rate for September 2012 was 0.1 percentage point below the hire rate for September 2011.

The total separations rate — quits, layoffs, and discharges — was 3.0 percent, or 4 million, compared to a rate of 3.3 percent, or 4.3 million, in August. Unsurprisingly, the number of voluntary quits — which can be seen as a measure of the willingness or workers to leave their jobs — dropped by about 200,000, to about 1.5 percent.

To put these numbers in context, there were about 4 million jobs open a month before December, 2007. In a healthy economy, there will be about two job seekers for every open position. In the current economy, there are nearly three and a half job seekers per position.

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