Job Market Report: New Year Kicks Off with Declining Job Openings


February 4, 2020

The labor market is starting the new decade on shaky ground. In Glassdoor’s January Job Market Report, job openings declined 3.1 percent year-over-year, the worst performance in three years and the second straight month of year-over-year declines. Even though pay growth accelerated to 2.6 percent, the underlying picture is not as rosy as it seems. Tracking the monthly trend reveals that median base pay actually declined month-over-month to $54,430 per year.

Job openings fell for the fourth straight month in a row, with 560,000 fewer openings in January compared to the September 2019 peak. The drop has wiped out the last year-and-a-half of gains, returning open job counts to levels last seen in July 2018. And while January is traditionally a slow month for new job postings, workers often use the new year to look for new jobs. The mismatch of labor demand and supply this January could be a speed bump for job seekers hoping to find opportunities at the start of the new year.

Pay growth accelerated in January, rising to 2.6 percent year-over-year from 2.3 percent in December. However, this acceleration is largely driven by a decrease in pay in the same period last year. When looking at pay on a month-over-month basis, pay has actually declined to $54,430 per year, down slightly from December levels. This suggests that the acceleration in pay growth is short-lived and will likely dissipate in coming months.

What does this mean for 2020? As the new year kicks off, Glassdoor data indicates the labor market is slowing as the reservoir of new job openings starts to lose water. While the level of job openings is still high, the clear downward trend is a worrying sign that employer demand is faltering in 2020. Additionally, pay growth will likely moderate over the next few months as we pass the weak comparable period from last year.

2020 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the economy as risks abound. While the Phase 1 trade deal was signed this month, it remains to be seen if China will renege on the agreement or if the Trump administration will open a new front of the trade war with Europe. Unexpected international events like conflict with Iran or the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could be a major shock to the economy. And since 2020 is an election year, politics will be top of mind for policymakers and businesses alike. While the economy is still healthy, a weakening labor market in 2020 could erode the economy’s buffer against a shock or downturn.

Let’s take a closer look at growth in job openings and pay on Glassdoor in January 2020. 

Local Metro Trends in Job Opening and Pay Growth

  • Job openings declined in nine out of the ten metros we report. Only Seattle saw job openings increase at a sluggish 0.7 percent, carried by a 19 percent increase in job openings from the internet & tech industry. By contrast, internet & tech shrunk 30.3 percent nationally. Seattle has benefited from being the home of major tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon, attracting highly skilled workers and creating a local ecosystem of startups.
  • San Francisco reclaimed its crown as the metro with the fastest pay growth after several months of average pay growth. The tech hub saw pay increase 3.9 percent, but this may reflect the shift from lower-wage industries like retail (where job openings in San Francisco declined 19.4 percent) to higher-wage industries like health care (+9.5 percent open jobs).

Below is a list of job openings and median base pay growth for all 10 U.S. metros in our January 2020 Job Market Report:

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

AreaJob OpeningsYoY %Median Base PayYoY %
U.S. National5,612,853-3.1%$54,4302.6%
Seattle107,1850.7%$64,6332.6%
Philadelphia109,104-1.3%$57,7192.0%
Los Angeles207,092-1.3%$64,2773.5%
Washington DC171,086-2.3%$62,8512.6%
New York City288,813-4.6%$65,9903.6%
San Francisco137,810-4.9%$74,8543.9%
Boston139,696-5.1%$63,1603.3%
Chicago184,657-6.2%$59,2763.0%
Houston89,578-7.0%$57,6903.3%
Atlanta108,545-12.5%$56,5212.9%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Trends in Job Opening Growth

  • Despite the Phase 1 trade deal being signed in January, job openings in manufacturing continued to decline, down 13.6 percent year-over-year. If manufacturers are skeptical of this supposed ceasefire in the U.S.-China trade war, they may hesitate to expand hiring activity in the coming months. Other production industries like aerospace & defense (-8.3 percent) and energy & utilities (-19.5 percent) also declined, burdened by the Boeing 737 Max grounding and slowdown in shale production, respectively. Glassdoor data suggests the slowdown in the goods-producing sectors from 2019 is not over yet.
  • Job openings in construction (+3.2 percent) and architecture & civil engineering (+10.1 percent) grew in January as lower interest rates continue to boost demand for new construction. With interest rates expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, the construction industry appears poised for a strong 2020.
  • Retail continues to disappoint, despite a strong holiday season for consumer spending, with job openings declining 6.6 percent year-over-year across all retail industries. This drop continues a four-month streak of declining job openings and is a reminder about the paradigmatic shift in retail. Consumer dollars are shifting from traditional retail to e-commerce and, with them, jobs are leaving retail for transportation and warehousing. Transportation & logistics job openings, however, also fell 37.4 percent as the trade war’s toll overwhelmed gains from the shift to e-commerce.

Below are lists of the industries with the fastest and slowest growth in job openings in our January 2020 Job Market Report, followed by growth in job openings segmented by employer size:

Top 5 Industries with Fastest Growth in Job Openings

IndustryJob OpeningsYoY %
Telecommunications48,25611.3%
Architecture & Civil Engineering47,23410.1%
Government114,26410.0%
Beauty & Fitness78,9159.2%
Information Technology178,4147.2%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Top 5 Industries with Slowest Growth in Job Openings

IndustryJob OpeningsYoY %
Transportation & Logistics243,745-37.4%
Business Services10,265-33.5%
Internet & Tech50,246-30.3%
Private Security20,442-25.4%
Energy & Utilities41,434-19.5%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Growth in Job Openings by Employer Size

Employer SizeJob OpeningsYoY %
<51660,43829.1%
51-200485,7845.5%
201-500455,193-1.7%
501-1000306,236-9.2%
1001-5000918,753-4.4%
5000+2,352,005-9.8%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

You can view the full dataset of job openings growth by industry and employer size as of January 2020 here.

Trends in Pay Growth

  • In the finance industry, pay growth is diverging between middle-income jobs, like loan officer (+14.1 percent) and financial advisor (+4.6 percent), and lower-income jobs, like bank teller (+0.2 percent). While financial uncertainty and declining interest rates over the last year have increased demand for financial services, demand for frontline workers at local retail bank branches has shrunk. The shift in pay toward roles emphasizing relationship management and analytical skills displays the skills that will be increasingly valuable in the coming technology-centered decade.
  • Recruiter pay increased 4.9 percent year-over-year in January. Despite a decline in job openings, employers are still feeling the squeeze of a tight labor market, and hiring talented workers requires hiring talented recruiters. While the job market for recruiters may decline if employer demand flags further, the last year has been good for recruiter pay.
  • UX designers (+5.1 percent) and producers (+5.0 percent) saw strong pay growth in January, well above the national average. Both jobs require a bevy of creative and communication skills. While the business services and media industries—traditionally the primary employers for these roles—have seen job openings shrink, more companies in industries like tech and gaming are hiring designers and producers in-house.

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

Top 10 Job Titles with Fastest Pay Growth

Job TitleMedian Base PayYoY %
Loan Officer$53,49414.1%
Sales Representative$51,6196.3%
Security Officer$37,8815.9%
UX Designer$79,3585.1%
Producer$55,7395.0%
Recruiter$53,6054.9%
Financial Advisor$56,8014.6%
Machine Operator$41,0654.5%
Technician$49,0414.3%
Emergency Medical Technician$36,1634.3%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

Top 10 Job Titles with Slowest Pay Growth

Job TitleMedian Base PayYoY %
Bartender$35,250-0.9%
Quality Engineer$72,521-0.5%
Bank Teller$31,8590.2%
Program Manager$76,9470.6%
Field Engineer$70,8640.8%
Solutions Architect$108,7600.8%
Systems Engineer$80,2620.8%
Java Developer$78,4420.9%
Physical Therapist$77,1400.9%
Marketing Manager$68,7931.0%

Source: Glassdoor Job Market Report

You can view the full dataset of median base pay and pay growth by job title as of January 2020 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 major 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 close to 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 150,000 new jobs added to payrolls and an unemployment rate steady at 3.5 percent in January. 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.