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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: April Job Openings & Hires Rose, Trend Down Hard
by Tom Moeller June 11, 2008

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in the Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that for April, the number of job openings rose 0.9% from March. That followed declines during most of the prior year. Since their peak in January of 2007, the number of job openings have fallen 14%. In addition, the job openings rate during that period fell from a 3.0% high to 2.6% in April, unchanged from March. 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 in the construction industry was unchanged in April versus March but the level of openings was down by more than one-half from the February '07 peak. Job openings in manufacturing were off by one-third from the late '06 peak while professional & business services job openings were off 7.9% from the peak. Job openings in the education & health sectors were off 8.2% from late '06.

By region, openings in the Northeast were down 23.2% from the late '06 peak and they were down 20.1% in the South. In the Midwest openings were off a lesser 6.9% from the peak and by 15.2% in the West since mid-2007.

The hires rate improved in April to 3.5% versus March but but remained well below the levels of the last several years. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.The actual number of hires rose in April by 4.7% from March after a 2.3% during all of 2007.

The job separations rate was unchanged m/m at 3.2% in April but that was down from 3.7% at the peak. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The level of job separations fell 10.3% from the peak.

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) April March April '07 2007 2006 2005
Job Openings, Total              
  Rate (%) 2.6 2.6 2.9 2.8 3.0 2.8
  Total (000s) 3,705 3,672 4,148 3,974 4,272 3,863
Hires, Total            
  Rate (%) 3.5 3.3 3.5 41.9 43.4 43.1
  Total (000s) 4,784 4,569 4,816 57,771 59,153 57,501
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