The Balance Today: News You Need To Know on Jan. 4, 2023

Woman with a clipboard looking at a bulletin board with job vacancies
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If you’re looking for work, or thinking about changing your job, there’s some good news. Employers are still looking for workers, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Labor Department. While job openings have fallen quite a bit from their record high of 11.9 million job vacancies in March, 10.5 million jobs still remained available by the end of November.

The latest JOLTS data comes just days ahead of the December jobs report, which will indicate how strong the U.S. economy remains. Despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow down the economy in an effort to fight inflation, the labor market has remained robust with unemployment levels sitting at 3.7%.

Economic data highlighting the economy’s strength would bolster the Fed’s position to hike interest rates. But each rate hike potentially brings the economy closer to recession, a scenario that we’d all rather avoid. Policymakers at the central bank have made it clear that they won’t stop hiking rates until inflation starts to cool even more, which sent stocks on a rollercoaster ride throughout 2022.

This afternoon, investors will also pore over the latest minutes from the last Fed meeting, searching for clues about the future path of rate hikes. In announcing December’s rate hike, Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated that the bank anticipates “ongoing increases” in the future, so it remains highly unlikely that today’s minutes will show a departure from that plan. 

But two questions still remain: How many rate increases will we be hit with this year? And how aggressive will they be? More rate hikes (and more aggressive rate hikes) could bring economic pain to us all in the form of higher interest rates on loans, higher levels of unemployment, and a possible recession.

Stocks are rising today as investors continue to hold their breath ahead of Friday’s jobs report.

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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, via FRED. "Job Openings: Total Nonfarm [JTSJOL]."

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary."

  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED. "Unemployment Rate (UNRATE)."

  4. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement."

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