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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: Job Openings Down in 2007
by Tom Moeller February 12, 2008

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in the Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the December '07 job openings rate was unchanged from the prior month at 2.8%. That level was, however, down from the highs of late 2006. 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 total job openings rose 0.4% m/m to 4.039 million but the number of job openings was down 8.2% last year from year end 2006. Professional & business service sector openings fell 8.5%, retail trade fell 22.7% while openings in manufacturing fell 15.2% y/y.

The hires rate fell m/m to 3.3%, its lowest level since 2004. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.

The actual number of hires fell 0.5% (-6.5% y/y) to 4.636 million. Last year, hires in the construction industry rose 3.5% but factory sector hires were 9.3% lower.

The job separations rate in December fell to 3.1% versus 3.3% at yearend 2006. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The level of job separations fell 4.1% since yearend 2006.

The JOLTS survey dates only to December 2000 but has since followed the movement in nonfarm payrolls, though the actual correlation between the two series is low.

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) December November December '06 2007 2006 2005
Job Openings, Total      
  Rate (%) 2.8 2.8 3.1 2.8 3.1 2.8
  Total (000s) 4,039 4,024 4,401 4,039 4,401 3,880
Hires, Total  
  Rate (%) 3.3 3.4 3.6 41.7 43.6 43.1
  Total (000s) 4,636 4,657 4,959 57,659 59,409 57,508
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