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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS Rate Is Stable But Layoffs Rise
by Tom Moeller  July 13, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the May job openings rate held steady m/m at 2.2%. The latest reading remained improved versus the recession low of 1.6% but has moved sideways for a year. 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 was steady m/m at 2.4% but has been moving higher since the recovery began. Professional & business services job openings rebounded sharply m/m to 3.3% which was near last year's average. Openings in education & health services also moved higher but they fell sharply in leisure & hospitality. In manufacturing, openings were stable m/m but remained more-than-double the mid-2009 level. The job openings rate in government remained depressed.

The hires rate held at 3.1% for the fourth consecutive month. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector rose to 3.5% versus 3.4% during Q1. The government's depressed 1.2% rate was where it's been since November and the number of hires was down by nearly two-thirds y/y. Overall, hires in the private sector rose 5.1% y/y). Hires in professional & business services were strongest with 14.0% y/y rise while education & health rose 3.4% y/y. 

The job separations rate jumped to 3.1%, its highest since last August. The actual number of separations also jumped 5.9% m/m (3.3% y/y). Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone jumped m/m from its all-time low to 1.4%. The private sector layoff rate increased to 1.5% but 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) May Apr Mar May'10 2010 2009 2008
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.1 2.2 1.8 2.1
 Total (000s) 2,974 2,953 3,123 2,790 2,921 2,369 2,937
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.1 3.1 3.1 3.3 36.3 34.7 39.3
 Total (000s) 3,797 3,733 3,807 3,613 43,214 41,973 50,2112
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.4 16.4 20.0 17.6
 Total (000s) 1,775 1,603 1,606 1,816 21,225 26,328 23,706
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