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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS Rate Slips
by Tom Moeller  June 7, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the April job openings rate slipped to 2.1% from 2.3% during March. The latest reading remained improved versus the recession low of 1.6%. 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 private-sector job openings rate also fell to 2.4% but was still near the highest level of the recovery. Professional & business services job openings fell sharply to 3.0%. Openings in leisure & hospitality and education & health also fell. In manufacturing, openings slipped m/m but remained more-than-double the mid-2009 level. The job openings rate in government fell.

The hires rate slipped to 3.0%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The 3.4% rate in the private sector also slipped but was stable with the second half of last year. The government's stable 1.2% rate remained near the cycle low and the actual number of hires was down 26.2% y/y. Hires in professional & business services were strongest with 7.8% rise while leisure & hospitality rose 4.7% y/y. During the last ten years there has been a 56% correlation between the total hires rate and the m/m change in payroll employment.

The job separations rate was stable at 2.9% but it remained close to its cycle low. The actual number of separations also remained near the cycle low. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone remained at its all-time low of 1.2%. The private sector layoff rate was 1.3% and in the public sector it was 0.5%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey) Apr Mar Feb Apr'10 2010 2009 2008
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.2 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.2 1.8 2.1
 Total (000s) 2,972 3,123 3,025 3,043 2,921 2,369 2,937
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.0 3.1 3.1 3.1 36.3 34.7 39.3
 Total (000s) 3,972 4,067 3,986 3,967 47,190 45,364 57,903
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.4 16.0 19.9 17.6
 Total (000s) 1,531 1,606 1,620 1,594 21,225 26,328 23,706
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