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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Holds High But Hires Slip
by Tom Moeller  August 7, 2012

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the rate of 2.7% held at its May level 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 rose 2.9% in June versus May (16.1% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate rose m/m to 3.0% and has moved steadily higher versus the recession low of 1.7%. The job openings rate in professional & business services slipped m/m to 3.8% but leisure & hospitality rose to a recovery high of 3.3%. The rate in education & health services held m/m at a at an improved 3.3% while the rate in manufacturing the rate rose to its five year high of 2.4%. Earlier signs of improvement faded and the job openings rate in government fell back to 1.6%, near its lowest since October.

In a sign of better employment growth the hires rate was 3.3%, down slightly from May but up from 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 3.7% and the government's rate held at a paltry 1.3%. The factory sector hires rate was stable at 2.2%, about where it's been since 2009. Overall hires in the private sector slipped 2.3% (+3.4% y/y).  Leisure & hospitality business hires slipped 0.4% y/y while hires in education & health services fell 3.0% y/y. Hires in professional & business services jumped 12.3% y/y and in manufacturing they rose 1.2% y/y.

The job separations rate fell to 3.2% and reversed most of May's jump to 3.4%. The actual number of separations fell (+4.0% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone fell to 1.4% and reversed some of its May rise. The private sector layoff rate was 1.5% while in government it was 0.5%.

The JOLTS survey dates only to December 2000 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

Economic Measurement is the title of Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's recent speech. A video presentation can be found here.


JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey) Jun May Apr Jun'11 2011 2010 2009
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.7 2.7 2.5 2.4 2.6 2.2 1.8
 Total (000s) 3,762 3,657 3,447 3,241 3,540 2,902 2,432
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.4 3.2 3.2 38.0 37.4 35.5
 Total(000s) 4,361 4,461 4,213 4,208 50,006 48,647 46,386
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.4 1.5 1.3 1.4 15.6 16.7 20.5
 Total (000s) 1,807 1,956 1,743 1,850 20,678 21,737 26,731
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