Job Market Report: Job Openings Fall 1.8%, First Drop Since March 2017


January 7, 2020

Despite a healthy start to the year, the labor market is ending 2019 on a sour note. Labor market signals diverged in Glassdoor’s last Job Market Report of the 2010s. Job openings shrank 1.8 percent year-over-year in December, the first annual decline in more than two years. Conversely, pay growth picked up, increasing to 2.3 percent year-over-year, its highest mark for 2019. While the acceleration in pay growth is good news for workers today, the declining demand for new workers raises the question: how long can payrolls keep expanding if employer demand wanes?

The drop in U.S. job openings continues a rapid deterioration in labor demand seen over the past few months, with 530,000 fewer job openings in December than the September peak of nearly 6.2 million open jobs on Glassdoor. While the current level of job openings is still healthy, it is a return to the lowest levels seen since July 2018.

While job openings slumped in December, pay growth accelerated, rising to 2.3 percent after hovering near 2.0 percent for much of 2019. Median base pay also rose month-over-month to $54,614 a year. Although accelerating pay growth is encouraging, the steady month-over-month trend indicates that year-over-year pay growth is being buoyed by a dip in wages last December when the stock market slipped.

What does this mean for the new year? Glassdoor data indicates 2020 may get off to a weak start. According to Glassdoor research, January is typically a slow hiring month, with employers posting 4 percent fewer job openings compared to a typical month. Similarly, absent further tightening of the labor market, pay growth will likely return to a more modest trend in the coming months.

Ultimately, 2020 will be a pivotal year for the labor market. If employer demand for workers rebounds in 2020, we may finally approach full employment and see accelerating wage gains for American workers. However, if employer demand for new workers weakens further, it may signal the end of the longest economic expansion in American history.

Let’s take a closer look at growth in job openings and pay on Glassdoor in December 2019. 

Local Metro Trends in Job Opening and Pay Growth

  • Only three out of the ten metros we report—Boston (+0.9 percent), Philadelphia (+0.4 percent) and Washington, D.C. (+0.2 percent)—saw job openings increase in December, all under 1 percent growth. Atlanta (-8.8 percent) saw a broad-based slowdown across industries, while Houston job openings fell 8.5 percent year-over-year as the energy industry continues to suffer from a shale slowdown. Job openings in Chicago (-4.6 percent), San Francisco (-3.6 percent), New York City (-2.4 percent) and Los Angeles (-2.2 percent) all declined in line with the national slowdown in retail and transportation & logistics.
  • Los Angeles saw the fastest pay growth, with median base pay up 3.4 percent year-over-year. While the city saw a 2.2 percent decline in job openings, strong job growth in health care & hospitals (+4.3 percent) and restaurant & bars (+10.2 percent) forestalled a more severe slowdown.

Below is a list of job openings and median base pay growth for all 10 U.S. metros in our December 2019 Job Market Report:

Growth in Job Openings and Pay Across 10 Major U.S. Metros

Area Job Openings YoY % Median Base Pay YoY %
U.S. National 5,641,516 -1.8% $54,614 2.3%
Boston 141,931 0.9% $63,267 2.6%
Philadelphia 109,363 0.4% $58,219 3.0%
Washington DC 175,084 0.2% $62,996 2.4%
Seattle 107,258 0.0% $64,752 1.9%
Los Angeles 206,753 -2.2% $64,352 3.4%
New York City 288,213 -2.4% $66,045 2.9%
San Francisco 140,029 -3.6% $74,844 3.2%
Chicago 183,496 -4.6% $59,410 2.6%
Houston 89,905 -8.5% $57,752 2.3%
Atlanta 109,906 -8.8% $56,433 2.1%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Trends in Job Opening Growth

  • In December, the federal government passed a $1.4 trillion spending bill, increasing the federal budget by $49 billion. Federal spending has increased dramatically over the last few years, leading to a 13.0 percent year-over-year increase in government job openings. The spending deal included paid family leave for an estimated 2.1 million federal workers, an attractive benefit as the government expands hiring in a competitive labor market.
  • Retail has shed 82,000 job openings since peaking in September, accounting for much of the overall decrease seen in December. That represents a 7.2 percent decrease year-over-year, as e-commerce continues to sap consumer dollars from more labor-intensive traditional retailers.
  • While retail jobs overall have under-performed in the last few months, job openings are still growing in specific pockets like consumer electronics (+12.2 percent) and beauty & fitness (+10.4 percent). Specialty stores and consumer services are better able to navigate the challenging retail landscape more flexibly even as retail mainstays like department stores stumble.

Below are lists of the industries with the fastest and slowest growth in job openings in our December 2019 Job Market Report, followed by growth in job openings segmented by employer size:

Top 5 Industries with Fastest Growth in Job Openings

Industry Job Openings YoY %
Government 118,963 13.0%
Construction 66,424 12.3%
Consumer Electronics 6,922 12.2%
Beauty & Fitness 80,352 10.4%
Accounting & Legal 47,152 9.9%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Top 5 Industries with Slowest Growth in Job Openings

Industry Job Openings YoY %
Business Services 10,296 -29.1%
Private Security 20,747 -27.4%
Transportation & Logistics 276,005 -20.0%
Telecommunications 34,924 -19.0%
Energy & Utilities 43,062 -18.3%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Growth in Job Openings by Employer Size

Employer Size Job Openings YoY %
<51 631,390 24.9%
51-200 482,815 6.2%
201-500 461,654 6.5%
501-1000 342,528 -2.4%
1001-5000 910,112 -7.5%
5000+ 2,403,794 -6.2%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

You can view the full dataset of job openings growth by industry and employer size as of December 2019 here.

Trends in Pay Growth

  • Loan officer pay growth reached 12.4 percent in December. The strong annual wage growth is a sign of the bounceback seen in lending throughout 2019. As the Federal Reserve reversed course and cut rates throughout 2019, the real estate market picked up, increasing demand for workers providing services to support new housing and loans.
  • Similarly, construction and real estate services were bright spots in December, both supported by a strengthening real estate market. Construction job openings increased 12.3 percent year-over-year, and real estate service jobs, like property manager (+5.0 percent) and security officer (+5.4 percent), saw pay grow well above the national average.
  • Financial advisors saw strong wage growth at 7.4 percent year-over-year. Following a stock market dip last winter and heightened concerns of a looming recession over the summer, the demand for financial advisors has pushed wages higher as Americans grapple with the potential end of the longest U.S. economic expansion on record.

Below are the jobs with the fastest and slowest year-over-year growth in median base pay for full-time U.S. workers in December:

Top 10 Job Titles with Fastest Pay Growth

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Loan Officer $51,339 12.4%
Financial Advisor $57,684 7.4%
Machine Operator $41,567 6.3%
Web Developer $69,312 6.1%
Security Officer $39,942 5.4%
Emergency Medical Technician $36,493 5.2%
Retail Key Holder $31,114 5.1%
Pharmacy Technician $34,366 5.1%
Property Manager $54,960 5.0%
Design Engineer $74,520 4.8%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Top 10 Job Titles with Slowest Pay Growth

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Java Developer $77,335 -2.1%
Bartender $34,390 -1.5%
Program Manager $76,176 -1.2%
Physical Therapist $76,489 -0.8%
Solutions Architect $109,654 -0.6%
Field Engineer $71,097 -0.2%
Pharmacist $124,611 -0.2%
Licensed Practical Nurse $44,623 0.2%
Communications Manager $69,401 0.4%
Customer Service Manager $56,126 0.9%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

You can view the full dataset of median base pay and pay growth by job title as of December 2019 here.

How Does it Work?

Note: Beginning in April 2019, the Glassdoor Job Market Report launched as an expansion of what was previously known as the Local Pay Reports. The new Job Market Report publishes monthly ahead of the BLS jobs report and now includes available data on job openings in addition to pay data previously reported in the Local Pay Reports. 

The Glassdoor Job Market Report provides a real-time view of job and hiring trends and wage growth in the U.S., including several metro areas, based on millions of online jobs and salaries on Glassdoor. As one of the world’s largest job sites, Glassdoor collects millions of job postings from a wide variety of online sources each month. In addition, Glassdoor is a leading source for real-time salary information, based on millions of crowd-sourced salary reports submitted online, voluntarily and anonymously, by current and former employees.

Leveraging the same technology behind Glassdoor’s powerful job search and Know Your Worth products, the Job Market Report applies proprietary data science and machine learning algorithms to Glassdoor data to aggregate and analyze online job openings and estimate wage growth across the nation, including in several U.S. metro areas. 

By publishing and comparing month-by-month job growth and pay growth across the U.S. by metro, industry and more, the Job Market Report offers a fresh, forward-looking and more detailed perspective into how the job market and economy are changing, in relative real-time.

Read more in our full methodology and FAQs.

Monthly Jobs Report Expectations

The latest jobs report from the federal government is due out on Friday. This month, we expect to see 167,000 new jobs added to payrolls and an unemployment rate steady at 3.5 percent in December. See our full analysis for more commentary and predictions here.

The Glassdoor Job Market Report can be found at: https://www.glassdoor.com/research/job-market-report/. To learn more or subscribe to receive email alerts about new research, visit: https://www.glassdoor.com/research/.

Press inquiries: To speak with the Glassdoor Economic Research team about this month’s report, any questions regarding the Job Market Report or this Friday’s BLS jobs report, please email pr@glassdoor.com.