Economy Watch: Job Openings, Residential Asking Prices

There were 4.8 million U.S. job openings on the last business day of October. Nationwide, asking prices for homes jumped 1.5 percent month over month in November.

There were 4.8 million U.S. job openings on the last business day of October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which was released  on Tuesday. That compares with 4.7 million in September, and 4.8 million in August. The October numbers thus tie highest level (in August) since the BLS created this particular metric in 2000, indicating that employers want to hire more briskly these days.

The BLS also reported that there were 4.8 million total separations in October, little changed from September. By the BLS’ reckoning, separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations are also referred to as turnover.

Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee, meaning that the quits rate is an indirect measure of the health of the employment market, as an indication of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Quits came in at 2.7 million in October, the same as in September, which is a higher level than during previous months this summer, the BLS said (and again the highest level of quits since April 2008).

Residential Asking Prices See Uptick in November

Trulia reported on Tuesday that nationwide, asking prices for homes jumped 1.5 percent month over month in November — a surprisingly large increase. Future months will tell whether this was a blip or the beginning of a sustained climb, the company noted. Year over year, asking prices rose 7.4 percent, down from the 10.3 percent annual increase in November 2013. Asking prices rose year over year in 98 of the 100 largest U.S. metros — everywhere but Little Rock and New Haven.

Four of the 10 metros where asking prices rose most year over year were in Florida, Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko, noted in a statement.

“These markets have older populations, and they all have a lower share of millennials than the national average of 21 percent and a higher share of baby boomers than the average of 24 percent,” he said. In fact, only one of the 10 markets with the largest price increases in November has a higher share of millennials than the national average—and only slightly (Las Vegas, at 22 percent).

Also according to Trulia, rents continue to climb. Nationwide, rents rose 6.1 percent year over year in November. Still, rental gains have cooled since August in 14 of the 25 largest rental markets, including the northern California markets of San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento.

Wall Street had a mixed day on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 51.28 points, or 0.29 percent, and the S&P 500 off a scant 0.02 percent. The Nasdaq gained 0.54 percent.