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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: U.S. Job Openings Steady During June
by Tom Moeller August 11, 2010

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that their latest reading of labor market conditions held steady after earlier deterioration. The Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) indicated that the job openings rate during June held at 2.2% versus the April high of 2.5%. Nevertheless, the rate remained improved from the recession low of 1.8% 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. Job availability was roughly unchanged after a sharp May decline but it was up 16.6% versus June '09. Last year job availability fell 17.8% following a 29.7% decline during 2008.

The private-sector job openings rate slipped to 2.3% but remained improved from 2.0% during all of last year. The level of job openings rose 15.8% y/y and reflected roughly a more-than doubling of factory openings as well as a 14.9% increase in leisure & hospitality. The lower openings rate translated into a lower hires rate of 3.3% but a 10.3% increase in overall hiring. Private sector hires grew 9.8%. This was led by a 20.7% rise in factory sector jobs and an 8.2% increase in construction employment. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The government sector's hiring rate was a modest 1.4%.

The job separations rate rose to 3.3% from the series' low of 3.1% in April. I was its highest since September. The actual number of separations also rose sharply for the second month and by 1.0% y/y. However, job separations in the private sector fell 4.0% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone rose to 1.6%,  as the actual number of layoffs fell 8.5% y/y after a 12.6% increase during 2009. The private sector layoff rate was 1.6% and it rose to 1.5% in government.

The JOLTS survey dates only to December 2000 but has 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 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor  Turnover Survey) June May April June '09 2009 2008 2007
Job Openings, Total
  Rate (%) 2.2 2.2 2.5 1.9 1.9 2.2 3.1
  Total (000s) 2,937 2,939 3,302 2,519 2,531 3,078 4,378
Hires, Total
  Rate (%) 3.3 3.5 3.3 3.0 37.3 41.1 45.9
  Total (000s) 4,254 4,581 4,292 3,856 48,649 56,082 63,234
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
  Rate (%) 1.6 1.5 1.4 1.7 20.7 17.7 16.5
  Total (000s) 2,034 1,904 1,760 2,224 27,683 24,589 22,606
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