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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS Rate Slips From Latest High
by Tom Moeller  December 13, 2011

The improving job market trend remains in place but it stuttered m/m in October. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the October job openings rate slipped m/m to 2.4% from 2.5%. Nevertheless, the latest reading remained near its highest since 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 fell 3.3% m/m (+12.5% y/y) but was near the highest since June 2008. The number of private sector openings fell 3.2% (+13.6% y/y) while public sector openings fell 3.7% (+4.3% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate slipped m/m to 2.6% but has been moving higher since the recovery began. The professional & business services job openings rate fell sharply m/m to 3.4%, but remained up from the low of 2.1%. The openings rate in trade, transportation & public utilities held at its high of 2.2% but education & health services slipped from its high to 2.9%. In leisure & hospitality businesses the openings rate also slipped to 2.7% and in manufacturing it was 1.9%, still double the mid-2009 low. The job openings rate in government remained up versus its low at 1.6%.

The hires rate also ticked down m/m to 3.1% but still was up modestly versus 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 slipped m/m to 3.5% but was up versus the recession low of 3.1%. The government's depressed 1.2% rate remained near where it's been since November. Overall, hires in the private sector rose 5.6% y/y. Hires in professional & business services remained strong, up 14.1% y/y while in leisure & hospitality businesses hires rose 12.4% y/y. In manufacturing they fell 12.7% y/y and were unchanged in education & heath services. Government sector hires fell 9.5% y/y.

The job separations rate pulled back to 3.0% but the actual number of separations rose 6.2% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone returned to its all-time low of 1.2%. The private sector layoff rate was 1.4% 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) Oct Sep Aug Oct'10 2010 2009 2008
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.4 2.5 2.3 2.2 2.2 1.8 2.1
 Total (000s) 3,267 3,377 3,129 2,905 2,921 2,376 2,938
Hires, Total
 Rate(%) 3.1 3.2 3.1 3.0 36.3 34.7 39.3
 Total(000s) 4.040 4,150 4,060 3,865 47,190 45,364 53,903
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.3 16.4 20.0 17.6
 Total (000s) 1,601 1,723 1,687 1,635 21,225 26,328 23,706
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