As expected, and I wrote about it last week, the Augusta Leading Economic Index (LEI) turned negative for the first time in six months. The LEI fell 0.4 percent in July from June. All the component indicators fell, except the Dow Jones Industrial Average which increased by 3 percent on the last day of July compared to the last day of June. Unfortunately, the Dow gave those gains back in August.
The data release for the final component of the LEI was for job openings. In Georgia, there were 311,000 job openings in July, down from 340,000 in June. This June number was itself revised down from the previous preliminary data of 372,000. Georgia job openings have fallen by 100,000 since January, an almost 25% decline. South Carolina has fared a little better, job openings fell only 1,000 in July from June. There are 14,000 lower than January, just 8% less.
There are still plenty of jobs per unemployed person although, the rate has fallen. In January, there were 2.3 job openings per unemployed person in Georgia, that rate is now 1.8. In South Carolina, the rate has fallen from 2.4 job openings per unemployed person in January to 2.2 in July. These ratios are still historically high. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been reporting job openings since 2000 and it wasn’t until June 2017 that the ratio of job openings to unemployed persons rose above unity.