According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), there were 456,000 manufacturing job openings in September, pulling back somewhat from the 469,000 postings in August, which was the best reading since July 2019. Overall, there were 1.95 unemployed workers for every one job opening in September, down from 4.6 in April but up from 0.8 in February.

Encouragingly, non-farm business layoffs decreased from 1,533,000 in August to 1,333,000 in September, an all-time low. Meanwhile, layoffs in the manufacturing sector declined from 102,000 to 90,000, the lowest since February 2017 and well below the 635,000 layoffs in April.  

One sign of improved health is the “churn” seen in the labor market, and the number of quits has rebounded in recent months. This is also reassuring. Non-farm payroll quits rose from 2,839,000 in August to 3,018,000 in September, the most since February, and manufacturing quits edged up from 207,000 to 212,000, a one-year high.

Producer prices for final demand goods increased 0.5 percent in October, the strongest monthly gain since July, boosted by sizable increases in energy and food costs. Yet, inflation for raw material goods was flat in October. Overall, core producer prices have risen 0.9 percent year-over-year, the highest since March.

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