US Job Openings Unexpectedly Surge in December as Labor Market Remains Tight

The number of available jobs in the U.S. unexpectedly rose in December, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Wednesday, indicating that demand for labor remained strong despite rising interest rates and concerns of an economic recession.

The U.S. job openings, a measure of labor demand, climbed from a revised 10.44 million in November to 11 million in December, the highest since July, and exceeded economists’ expectations of 10.25 million.

The Federal Reserve raised its interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, bringing the benchmark rate to a range of 4.5% to 4.75% from 4.25% to 4.5% previously while signaling to go further in order to bring inflation down to its target.

This quarter-point hike marked the Fed’s second downshift, following a 50 bps hike in December and four consecutive 75 bps hikes.

The market expected three quarter-point hikes in total this year after the central bank lifted its benchmark rate to a median rate of 5.1% in 2023, equal to a range of 5.00% to 5.25% at the meeting last December.