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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Improves To Recovery High
by Tom Moeller  April 9, 2013

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the February Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, the job openings rate rose to 2.8% from a revised 2.7% in January. The latest was the highest since June of last year and equaled the recovery high. 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 8.7% (11.3% y/y) and also reached a new high for the economic recovery.

The private-sector job openings rate jumped to 3.0%. That equaled the cycle's high and was double the recession low of 1.7%. The job openings rate in professional & business services rose sharply to 3.8% while in health care and social services it jumped to 3.5%. That equaled the new high in leisure & hospitality. The rate in manufacturing held steady at 2.1% while in construction it was 2.0%. The job openings rate in government has been steadily improving and in February it jumped to 2.0%, up from the 2011 low of 1.3%

The hires rate recovered to 3.3%, but that just continued its erratic sideways move since 2011. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector also was constant at 3.6% while the government's rate ticked up to 1.4%. In leisure & hospitality, the hiring rate continued quite firm at 5.5% but the factory sector hires rate ticked up to just 1.9%. In education & health services, the rate slipped to 2.4%. Overall hires in the private sector fell 1.6% y/y as professional & business services hires fell 13.2% y/y. Hires in factory sector were off 11.6% y/y while gov't sector hires fell 2.9% y/y. These declines were offset by a 13.4% gain in the trade, transportation & utilities businesses. 

The job separations rate held at 3.1%. Moreover, the actual number of separations was unchanged y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate ticked up m/m to 1.2% but remained near the series' low. The private sector layoff rate was stable at a low 1.1% but in government it ticked up 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) Feb Jan Dec Feb'12 2012 2011 2010
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.8 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.2
 Total (000s) 3,925 3,611 3,612 3,526 3,617 3,540 2,902
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.2 3.1 3.4 38.8 38.0 37.4
 Total(000s) 4,418 4,298 4,195 4,489 51,811 50,006 48,647
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.3 15.6 15.6 16.7
 Total (000s) 1,615 1,520 1,569 1,762 20,621 20,678 21,737
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