Job Creation Is Slowing. Is That a Sign of a Weakening Economy?

After growing by an average of 5% through the first ten months of the year, the number of new job openings fell to 1% in November, according to Glassdoor’s monthly Job Market Report. The overall number of openings actually dropped to 5.81 million in November, down from 5.96 million in October.

“The drop in job openings month-over-month was driven by a surprise decline in retail, which had previously shown strong momentum in the run-up to the holiday season, and in transportation & logistics, which is regressing after rapid inventory buildup last year during the early days of the trade war,” wrote Glassdoor researcher Daniel Zhao.

Machine operator has the fastest wage growth in November. Image source: Getty Images.

Pay inches up

While the number of new openings dropped and the overall amount of open jobs fell, it’s important to note that 5.81 million openings is still a near-record number. It’s possible that some companies chose to not advertise jobs that they did not believe they could fill before the end of the year.

And while new openings slowed down, pay rates continue to rise, albeit slowly. Annual pay grew by 2% in November, with median base pay climbing to $54,386 a year. Zhao believes that while pay is growing, companies are being cautious, even though they have a lot of openings to fill.

“In the last seven months, pay growth has stayed remarkably flat at 2%, indicating that despite a hot labor market for much of 2019, labor force slack and softening employer demand are still holding wage growth down,” he wrote.

Not all jobs, of course, experience the same rate of pay growth. Some positions grow at faster rates largely due to pressure companies face filling open jobs. It’s worth noting that both retail worker and truck driver — two mainstays on this top-10 list most months — fell off the list as retail (-7.5%) and transportation & logistics (-17.8%) saw major drops in their number of openings.

Top 10 Job Titles with Fastest Pay Growth

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Machine Operator $41,815 5.9%
Loan Officer $49,716 5.5%
Financial Advisor $57,002 4.9%
Construction Laborer $42,767 4.9%
Security Officer $36,999 4.7%
Pharmacy Technician $32,697 4.4%
Recruiter $53,250 3.8%
Design Engineer $74,653 3.7%
Claims Adjuster $55,082 3.7%
Certified Nursing Assistant $29,225 3.6%

Data source: Glassdoor.

Is the economy stumbling?

One month may be an anomaly, or it could be a sign of things to come. The reality is that November may simply mark a period when companies decided it made little sense to advertise new jobs. That could be due to frustration in filling open positions or knowing that many people in the hiring loop would be taking time off during the holiday season.

These numbers may well prove to be a small bump in the road that’s not indicative of a greater trend. It will take months to actually know if the job market has cooled, and whether that’s a sign of a weakening overall economy or even a coming recession.

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