US job openings rise to 10.7M, bad news for inflation fight


FILE – A hiring sign is displayed in Deerfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. job openings rose unexpectedly in September, suggesting that the American labor market is not cooling as fast as the inflation fighters at the Federal Reserve hoped.

Employers posted 10.7 million job vacancies in September, up from 10.2 million in August, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Economists had expected the number of job openings to drop below 10 million.

For the past two years, as the economy rebounded from 2020’s COVID-19 recession, employers have complained they can’t find enough workers. With so many jobs available, workers can afford to resign and seek employment that pays more or offers better perks or flexibility. So companies have been forced to raise wages to attract and keep staff. Higher pay has contributed to inflation that has hit 40-year highs in 2022.

To combat higher prices, the Federal Reserve has hiked its benchmark interest rate five times this year and is expected to deliver another increase Wednesday and again at its meeting in December. The central bank is aiming for a so-called soft landing — raising rates just enough to slow economic growth and bring inflation down without causing a recession.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has expressed hope that inflationary pressure can be relieved by employers cutting job openings, not jobs.

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