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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Remains High
by Tom Moeller  October 10, 2012

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate held at 2.6% in August 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 fell 0.9% to 3,561 (+13.0% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate held m/m at 2.6%. It has moved steadily higher versus the recession low of 1.7%. The job openings rate in professional & business services recovered m/m to 3.8%. In construction the rate also rose to 1.5% but leisure & hospitality fell back sharply to 2.9%, a six month low. The rate in education & health services fell to 3.1%, also a six month low. In manufacturing the rate fell to 2.1%, off sharply from the March high of 2.5%. The job openings rate in government held at an improved 1.7%.

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 recovered m/m to 3.7% and the government's rate ticked up to a still-low 1.4%. The factory sector hires rate fell sharply to 1.9%, the low for the economic recovery. Overall hires in the private sector jumped 2.5% (3.9% y/y). Professional & business services hires gained 7.2% (4.9% y/y) and leisure & hospitality hires rose 1.5% (2.8% y/y). These increases were offset by a 4.5% decline (-9.3% y/y) in factory sector hiring.

The job separations rate rose to 3.3%. The actual number of separations jumped 6.5% (5.9% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone recovered to 1.4% and reversed most of the prior two months' declines. The private sector layoff rate was 1.6% 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.


JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey) Aug Jul Jun Aug'11 2011 2010 2009
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.6 2.6 2.7 2.3 2.6 2.2 1.8
 Total (000s) 3,561 3,593 3,722 3,152 3,540 2,902 2,432
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.2 3.2 3.2 38.0 37.4 35.5
 Total(000s) 4,390 4,278 4,284 4,221 50,006 48,647 46,386
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.4 1.2 1.3 1.3 15.6 16.7 20.5
 Total (000s) 1,848 1,582 1,761 1,755 20,678 21,737 26,731
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