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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rebound
by Tom Moeller  July 10, 2012

The rate of labor market improvement rose during May. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the rate of 2.7% reversed its April decline and was 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 in May rose 5.7% from April (18.4% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate rose m/m to 2.8% and has moved steadily higher versus the recession low of 1.7%. The professional & business services job openings rate ticked up to 3.7%. The rate in education & health services also inched up to 3.3%. In manufacturing the rate rose to a five year high of 2.5% and made up its April decline. The job openings rate in government recovered to 1.8%, its best since the 2010 Census.

Employment gains also increased as the hires rate recovered to 3.3%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector rose to 3.7% and the government's rate inched up to 1.4%. The factory sector hires rate was stable at 2.2%, about where it's been since 2009. Overall hires in the private sector recovered 3.8% (3.6% y/y) while in the public sector they inched up 0.3% (15.5% y/y). Leisure & hospitality business hires rose 13.1% y/y while hires in education & health services increased 14.5% y/y. Hires in professional & business services rose a lesser 1.5% y/y while in manufacturing they declined 4.1% y/y.

The job separations rate rose to 3.3% after three months at 3.1% and the actual number of separations rose 4.1% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone jumped to 1.4% its highest since last June. The private sector layoff rate was 1.6% while in government it was 0.6%.

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'11 2011 2010 2009
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.7 2.5 2.7 2.3 2.6 2.2 1.8
 Total (000s) 3,642 3,447 3,741 3,014 3,540 2,902 2,432
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.2 3.3 3.2 38.0 37.4 35.5
 Total(000s) 4,361 4,213 4,335 4,182 50,006 48,647 46,386
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.4 15.6 16.7 20.5
 Total (000s) 1,885 1,743 1,652 1,843 20,678 21,737 26,731
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