RALEIGH – The good news for workers (record-number of job openings) and bad news for employers (record number of workers quitting) may be ebbing, warns N.C. State economics professor emeritus Dr. Mike Walden.

Why? A recession could be coming as the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates in order to battle soaring inflation.

“Bottom line:  We may very well have seen the peak of job openings and quit rates, at least for this year,” Walden tells WRAL TechWire when asked for his analysis of new Labor Department data showing a record number of open jobs and quits, or resignations. 

The Fed is likely to raise interest rates again at any time, and Walden warns an economic slowdown could result.

“Today the Fed will again raise its key interest rate, likely by one-half percentage point.  More rate hikes are likely coming.  Increasingly, economists are worried about a recession by year’s end,” Walden explains.

“Now the question is more about how deep the recession will be,” he adds.

A consequence of that? More stability in the work force.

“If a significant recession does occur,” Walden points out, “workers will be reluctant to quit their jobs and even the tech sector will slow its hiring.”

US job openings hit record 11.5M; people quitting his record, too: 4.5M

Tech sector booms

The Triangle area continues to be a jobs magnet with employers seeking to fill some 50,000 jobs. Many of those are in technology-related fields.

National, federal data shows that in March “information” jobs posting increased to 202,000 – nearly double year-over-year and up 40,000 since February.

Hiring, meanwhile, increased to 109,000 – up 20,000 from a month earlier.

Quits, however, declined a bit to 82,000 from 83,000 in March and some 5,000 year=over=year.

In related tech sectors, openings also soared:

  • Financial activities, 505,000
  • Finance and insurance, 370,000
  • Professional and business services, 2.14 million

Quits were stable from the previous month.

What’s trending?

The tech sector is booming in part by the necessity to digitize operations in the wake of the pandemic, Walden notes. And he doesn’t see that trend changing.

“Long-run, there will continue to be a shift into tech and related sectors as the post-pandemic economy emerges.  Tech’s leadership in the post-pandemic economy will become stronger with the growth of digital interactions, enhanced computational and decision-making capabilities, and cloud storage and computing.,” he explains.

“Currently, these jobs congregate in large metros (including the Triangle).  The challenge will be placing some of the new jobs in small towns and rural areas.   Such a move would economically benefit those areas as well as relieve some the the price pressure on housing and traffic congestion in metro locations.”

Employers knocking down the door: Jobs openings surge since Jan.