January's headline labor market numbers were off-the-charts strong, with 517,000 jobs added and a five-decade low in the jobless rate.
- New data out Wednesday morning will give us a look under the hood of what was happening.
Driving the news: For the reasons described above, the upcoming Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey has greater-than-usual significance. Forecasters expect it to show the number of job openings falling to 10.5 million, from 11 million in December.
- That would be evidence of a meaningful slowdown in the job market in spite of January's booming figures.
- In December, JOLTS surged unexpectedly from 10.4 million to 11 million — yet another indicator of a too-hot-for-comfort job market.
The intrigue: Job openings, however, have been a volatile indicator of the state of the labor market. They may not be the best indicator of what's really going on.
- The rate of quits (people voluntarily leaving their jobs) and discharges (people leaving less-than-voluntarily) could be more instructive of whether there is softening in the job market underway not apparent in other data.
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