In April job openings hit their highest levels since January. The unusually strong jobs numbers have analysts talking about the possibility the Federal Reserve could implement another interest rate hike in June.
On Wednesday the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, which revealed that at the end of April there were 10.1 million job openings, up from the 9.8 million registered in March. In a survey of economists by Bloomberg, it was estimated there would be 9.4 million job openings.
The strength of the latest JOLTS report has combined with other data showing the economy is still running hotter than the Fed would intend, and caused traders to price in another interest rate hike at the next Fed meeting in June.
Following the release of Wednesday’s JOLTS report, market pricing for a rate hike in June surged. At the beginning of the day markets were pricing in the likelihood of a hike in June at less than 60%. Roughly 15 minutes after the report’s release, markets were pricing in a 71% chance of a hike, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.
In a note on Wednesday, Oxford Economics wrote, “After falling throughout Q1, job openings surprised to the upside in April, signaling that the tightness in the labor market is unlikely to fall off a cliff but rather continue downward on a bumpy path. While there are some concerns over the veracity of the JOLTS survey due to historically low response rates, the upshot remains that labor market strength remains robust.”
Following the news, stocks inched lower, as the major indices bottomed out for the day following the report’s release.
Next up will be the May jobs report, scheduled for release on Friday. It is predicted to show 195,000 non-farm payroll jobs were added to the economy in May, with unemployment inching higher to 3.5%, according to Bloomberg data. In April, 253,000 jobs were tacked onto the US economy as unemployment fell to 3.4%, the lowest reading since 1969.
Citi economists have indicated that in their analysis any nonfarm payroll number at 200,000 or higher would point to a labor market that was still too hot, and would result in the Fed hiking interest rates again in June.