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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS Rate Is Highest In Three Years
by Tom Moeller  November 8, 2011

The job market is on the mend as job openings and hires rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the September job openings rate rose m/m to 2.5%. The latest reading was its highest since August 2008 and 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 actual number of job openings posted a 7.2% m/m increase (21.7% y/y) to the highest level since June 2008. The number of private sector openings rose 6.8% (23.0% y/y) while public sector openings rose 11.2% (12.3% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate increased m/m to 2.7% and has been moving higher since the recovery began. Professional & business services job openings reached a new high of 3.8%, up from the low of 2.1%. The openings rate in trade, transportation & public utilities rose to 2.1% while education & health services rose to 3.0%, where it was six months ago. In leisure & hospitality businesses the openings rate ticked up to 2.7% and in manufacturing it was 2.0%, more-than-double the mid-2009 low. The job openings rate in government was up off its low at 1.6%.

The hires rate improved slightly m/m to 3.2%, up off the recession low of 2.8%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector rose m/m to 3.6% versus the recession low of 3.1%. The government's depressed 1.2% rate was near where it's been since November. Overall, hires in the private sector rose 10.2% y/y. Hires in professional & business services were strongest with a one-third y/y rise. Hires in construction rose by one quarter y/y and in leisure & hospitality they rose 8.4%, but in most other industries they fell.

The job separations rate inched up to 3.2% and the actual number of separations rose 6.3% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone held at 1.3%, just above the all-time low. The private sector layoff rate was 1.5% but in the public sector it stayed at 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) Sep Aug Jul Sep-10 2010 2009 2008
Job Openings, Total
 Rate(%) 2.5 2.3 2.4 2.1 2.2 1.8 2.1
 Total(000s) 3,354 3,129 3,213 2,756 2,921 2,376 2,938
Hires, Total
 Rate(%) 3.2 3.1 3.0 3.0 36.3 34.7 39.3
 Total(000s) 4,245 4,060 3,976 3,869 47,190 45,364 53,903
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3 16.4 20.0 17.6
 Total (000s) 1,756 1,687 1,694 1,714 21,225 26,328 23,706
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