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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS Rate Slips From Latest High
by Tom Moeller  January 10, 2012

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the November job openings rate slipped to 2.3% from an unrevised 2.4%. Nevertheless, 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 actual number of job openings fell 2.0% m/m (+6.6% y/y) but were still was near the highest level since June 2008. The number of private sector openings fell 1.6% (+6.8% y/y) while public sector openings fell 5.0% (+4.6% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate held steady m/m at 2.5% and has moved steadily higher versus the recession low of 1.7%. The professional & business services job openings rate again fell sharply m/m to 2.9%, its lowest since April. The openings rate in trade, transportation & public utilities held for the third month at its high of 2.2% but education & health services remained a bit lower at 2.9%. In leisure & hospitality businesses the openings rate rose to its highest level (3.0%) since June, 2008 but in manufacturing it held at 1.9%, still double the mid-2009 low. The job openings rate in government fell to 1.5% and reversed its prior two month's improvement.

The hires rate also ticked back up to 3.2% and 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 held m/m at 3.5%, up versus the recession low of 3.1%. The government's depressed 1.3% rate was up m/m but, except for hiring with the 2010 Census, has remained depressed since 2008. Overall, hires in the private sector rose 5.4% y/y. Hires in professional & business services remained strong, up 10.5% y/y while in leisure & hospitality businesses hires rose by one-quarter y/y. In manufacturing they fell 12.9% y/y and were down 4.5% in education & heath services. Government sector hires rose 3.3% y/y.

The job separations rate held steady at 3.0% but the actual number of separations rose 3.3% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone ticked up m/m to 1.3% but remained near its all-time low of 1.2%. The private sector layoff rate was 1.4% 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) Nov Oct Sep Nov'10 2010 2009 2008
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.2 2.2 1.8 2.1
 Total (000s) 3,161 3,224 3,377 2,966 2,921 2,376 2,938
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.2 3.1 3.2 3.0 36.3 34.7 39.3
 Total(000s) 4,149 4,042 4,150 3,943 47,190 45,364 53,903
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.3 16.4 20.0 17.6
 Total (000s) 1,691 1,595 1,723 1,739 21,225 26,328 23,706
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