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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Improvement Is Sustained
by Tom Moeller  January 10, 2013

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, improvement in the job openings rate has been accompanied by an only moderate increase in hires. In the November  job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the job openings rate held at 2.7% versus an unrevised October. That remained the highest rate for the expansion 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 ticked up 0.3% to 3,676 (12.3% y/y).

The private-sector job openings rate remained at 2.9%, up versus the recession low of 1.7%. The job openings rate in health care and social services rose to 3.6%, up from the 2010 low of 2.5%. In leisure & hospitality, the rate jumped to 3.4% while the rate in manufacturing held at an improved 2.3%. The job openings rate in government was stable at a relatively low 1.6%.

Holding steady m/m was the hires rate at a relatively high 3.2%. It still was nearly the lowest level since February, 2011 but was 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 held at 3.6% while the government's rate moved up a bit to 1.4%. In leisure & hospitality, the hiring rate continued quite firm at 5.0% but the factory sector hires rate fell to a recovery low of 1.9%. In education & health services the rate also fell to nearly a recovery low of 2.3%. Overall hires in the private sector fell 0.8% (+0.9% y/y) and have moved sideways this year. Professional & business services hires jumped 3.0% (6.5% y/y) but leisure & hospitality hires fell 7.3% (-12.2% y/y).

The job separations rate held at 3.1%, nearly the lowest in fifteen months. The actual number of separations rose 2.0% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate fell m/m and equaled its five year low of 1.2%. 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) Nov Oct Sep Nov'11 2011 2010 2009
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.7 2.7 2.6 2.4 2.6 2.2 1.8
 Total (000s) 3,676 3,665 3,547 3,274 3,540 2,902 2,432
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.2 3.2 3.1 3.2 38.0 37.4 35.5
 Total(000s) 4,319 4,316 4,204 4,268 50,006 48,647 46,386
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.3 15.6 16.7 20.5
 Total (000s) 1,656 1,660 1,728 1,770 20,678 21,737 26,731
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