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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Retraces Earlier Gains
by Tom Moeller  February 12, 2013

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the December Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, the job openings rate fell to 2.6% from 2.8% in November, revised from 2.7%. The latest remained up from the recession low of 1.6%. For the year as a whole, the job openings rate held steady with 2011 at 2.6%. 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 4.6% to 3,617 (2.2% y/y). For the year the number of openings rose 2.2% after a 22.0% rise during 2011.

The private-sector job openings rate fell to 2.8%, up versus the recession low of 1.7%. For the year the rate was steady at 2.8%. The job openings rate in health care and social services slipped to 3.6% but remained up from the 2010 low of 2.5%. In leisure & hospitality, the rate slipped to 3.2% while the rate in manufacturing fell to 2.1%. The job openings rate in government was stable for the month and the year at a relatively low 1.6%.

The hires rate fell to 3.1% and was at the lowest level since February, 2012. For the year, the hires rate rose to 38.8%, its highest level of the economic recovery. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector backpedaled to 3.5% while the government's rate held at 1.3%. In leisure & hospitality, the hiring rate continued quite firm at 5.5% and the factory sector hires rate nudged up to 2.1%. In education & health services, the rate recovered to 2.6%. Overall hires in the private sector fell 4.8% (+0.7% y/y) but rose 3.2% for the year, a slower gain than the 4.6% rise in 2009. Hires in education & health services jumped 7.0% last year. Leisure & hospitality hires rose 4.3% for the year but factory sector hiring fell 2.1%.

The job separations rate fell to 3.0% at year-end, the lowest level since early-2011. The actual number of separations rose 1.1% y/y and 3.9% during all of 2011. 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 1.1%. The private sector layoff rate was 1.3% 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) Dec Nov Oct Dec'11 2012 2011 2010
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.6 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.2
 Total (000s) 3,617 3,790 3,665 3,540 3,617 3,540 2,902
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.1 3.3 3.2 3.2 38.8 38.0 37.4
 Total(000s) 4,194 4,403 4,316 4,188 51,811 50,006 48,647
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.3 15.6 15.6 16.7
 Total (000s) 1,567 1,699 1,673 1,685 20,621 20,678 21,737
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