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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: More U.S. Job Openings, Less Hiring?
by Tom Moeller February 7, 2006

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the job openings rate, from the Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), rose again in December as the US job market firmed further. The rate rose to 2.9% from 2.8% in November and averaged 2.7% during the year, an improvement from 2.4% during 2004. The job openings rate is the number of job openings on the last business day of the month as a percent of total employment plus job openings.

The actual number of job openings rose 123,000 (15.5% y/y) to 4.05 million.

Not showing the same improvement, the hires rate slipped in December to 3.4% and fell during much of the year from a 1Q high of 3.6%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires level during December fell 134,000 (-2.8% y/y) to 4.507 million.

The job separations rate dropped sharply to 3.1%, the lowest level in nearly two years. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The total separations, or turnover, rate is the total number of separations during the month divided by employment. The level of job separations fell 182,000 (-6.8% y/y) to 4.133 million.

The survey dates only to December 2000 but has since followed the movement in nonfarm payrolls.

A description of the Jolts survey and the latest release from the U.S. Department of Labor is available here.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey) Dec Nov Dec '04 2005 2004 2003
Job Openings Rate: Total 2.9% 2.8% 2.6% 2.7% 2.4% 2.1%
Hires Rate: Total 3.4% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.4% 3.2%
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