MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY
Continued turmoil in labor markets as jobs openings and quits rise to series highs
At the end of March, the number of job openings rose 1.8 percent to a series high of 11.5 million. Hires slipped 1.4 percent to 6.7 million, while total separations edged up 3.9 percent to 6.3 million. Within separations, quits rose 3.5 percent to a series high of 4.5 million. With 5.95 million officially unemployed persons in March, the number of excess jobs rose 10.3 percent to 5.6 million, for an openings/unemployed ratio of 1.94 (or .52 persons for each opening). The ratio of quits to openings edged up slightly but remains at .39, which means that for every new opening, employers have to contend with nearly 40 percent of workers quitting in a given month.
March service sector index slips 1.2 points to 57.1
In April, the Services PMI® registered 57.1 percent, 1.2 percentage points lower than March’s reading of 58.3 percent. There was a pullback in the composite index, mostly due to the restricted labor pool (impacting the Employment Index) and the slowing of new orders growth. Business activity remains strong; however, high inflation, capacity constraints and logistical challenges are impediments, and the Russia-Ukraine war continues to affect material costs, most notably of fuel and chemicals.
Purchase loan applications rise 4 percent from previous week, but down 11 percent year-on-year
The Market Composite Index for mortgage applications increased 2.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans up 4 percent (but down 11 percent year-on-year) and refinances edging up 0.2 percent (but down 71 percent year-on-year). The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.36 percent from 5.37 percent.