Job openings fell by the most in seven and a half years in April, according to the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), issued Tuesday. According to the report, there were 3.4 million job openings at the end of April, a five-month low, and, at 8 percent, the percentage drop was bigger than any since late 2004. The pace of hiring slowed as well, according to the survey, with just 160,000 openings filled during the month. The disappointing report may add fuel to calls from investors, economists and consumers alike for the Federal Reserve to launch a third round of asset purchases to stimulate the sluggish economy.
Weakness was spread across the JOLTS, with construction job openings falling by 2,000 and manufacturing losing a total of 62,000 available positions. The labor market had shown string improvement earlier this year, with an average of 250,000 jobs created in each of the year's first three months, but has since slowed, adding to concerns that the labor market may hold back the overall economic recovery. Even the leisure and hospitality sector, which had been steadily adding jobs in recent months, lost 3,000 openings in the most recent survey. Government agencies continued to slash positions as well, cutting 42,000 positions in April.