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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Slips
by Tom Moeller  November 8, 2012

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the September job openings rate slipped to 2.6% from a revised 2.7%. It still 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 2.7% to 3,561 (+1.7% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate held for the third consecutive month at 2.8%, up versus the recession low of 1.7%. The job openings rate in professional & business services fell to 3.5% versus its December high of 4.3%. In leisure & hospitality, the rate fell to 2.8%, a one year low. The rate in education & health services recovered to 3.3%. In manufacturing the rate again fell to 2.0%, off sharply from the March high of 2.5%. The job openings rate in government retreated to 1.6% from the recent high of 1.8%.

Reversing an earlier sign of improvement, the hires rate fell to 3.1%, the lowest level since July of last year but still 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 fell sharply m/m to 3.5% and the government's rate fell back to 1.3%. In leisure & hospitality, the hiring rate continued quite firm at 5.1% but the factory sector hires rate held at an economic recovery low of 1.9%. In education & health services, the rate fell to a still relatively high 2.4%. Overall hires in the private sector fell a sharp 4.9% (-2.3% y/y). Professional & business services hires fell 5.7% (-5.3% y/y) while leisure & hospitality hires dropped 7.0% (-5.6% y/y).

The job separations rate dropped to 3.0%, a nine month low. The actual number of separations declined 7.6% (-1.6% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone slipped to 1.3%, about what it's averaged for over a year. The private sector layoff rate was 1.4% while in government it was a lower 0.4%.

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


JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey) Sep Aug Jul Sep'11 2011 2010 2009
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.6 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.2 1.8
 Total (000s) 3,561 3,661 3,593 3,501 3,540 2,902 2,432
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.1 3.3 3.2 3.2 38.0 37.4 35.5
 Total(000s) 4,185 4,440 4,278 4,276 50,006 48,647 46,386
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.3 1.4 1.2 1.3 15.6 16.7 20.5
 Total (000s) 1,701 1,848 1,582 1,765 20,678 21,737 26,731
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