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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: U.S. Job Openings Rate Backs Off Again
by Tom Moeller   November 09, 2010

Reversing the earlier indication of labor market improvement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the September job openings rate fell to 2.2% from a downwardly revised 2.3%. Both figures remained slightly lower than the April high of 2.5% but were much improved versus 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 fell 5.3% in September and was down in four of the last five months. Job availability has risen 15.7% since December after last year's 17.8% decline which followed a 29.7% drop during 2008.

The private-sector job openings rate slipped to 2.3% from its recent high of 2.5%. The level of job openings rose 11.2% y/y and reflected a 39.6% gain in factory openings as well as a 20.4% increase in professional & business services. However, in education & health services openings fell 13.4% y/y after declines of roughly 16% during the last two years. Job openings in government rose 14.7% y/y but the rate remained a low 1.5% and the hires rate was a lower 1.1%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.

The job separations rate held at a low 3.2% but was up from the series' low of 3.1% in April. The actual number of separations fell for the third consecutive month (-2.0% y/y). However, job separations in the private sector fell a sharp 4.6% y/y as separations in the government sector jumped by one-third y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone held at a low 1.4%, as the actual number of layoffs fell 20.0% y/y following a 12.6% increase during 2009. The private sector layoff rate held at its low of 1.5% and it fell 0.9% in the government sector.

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

Rejecting the Requiem is the title of yesterday's speech Fed Governor Kevin Warsh and it can be found here.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor  Turnover Survey) Sept. Aug. July Sept.'09 2009 2008 2007
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.0 1.9 2.2 3.1
 Total (000s) 2,929 3,092 3,141 2,624 2,531 3,078 4,378
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.2 3.2 3.3 3.2 37.3 41.1 45.9
 Total (000s) 4,190 4,156 4,275 3,997 48,649 56,082 63,234
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.4 1.4 1.6 1.6 20.7 17.7 16.5
 Total (000s) 1,792 1,861 2,112 2,049 27,683 24,589 22,606
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