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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Holds Steady
by Tom Moeller  July 9, 2013

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its May Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate remained steady m/m at 2.7% in May. The trend, however, has been sharply upward. 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 0.7% m/m (1.4% y/y) but remained just below the recovery high reached in February.

The private-sector job openings rate remained at 2.9%, off its recovery high of 3.0%. The job openings rate in professional & business services fell to 3.3% and in leisure and hospitality it slipped to 3.1%. The rate in education & health services fell to 3.0%. The rate in manufacturing moved lower to 1.9%, its lowest since November 2011, while in construction it held steady at 1.7%. The job openings rate in government held m/m at 1.8% but still was up from the 2011 low of 1.3%.

The hires rate rebounded to 3.3%, near where it's been since 2011. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector ticked up to 3.7% while the government's rate slipped to 1.3%. In leisure & hospitality the hiring rate slipped to 5.7% but remained nearly its highest since last March. In professional & business services the hires rate slipped to 4.7% and remained down from the cycle high of 5.4%. In construction the hiring rate recovered m/m to 5.3%. The factory sector hires rate improved to 2.0% but remained down from its June high of 2.4%. In education & health services the rate held at 2.6%.

Overall hires in the private sector fell 1.8% y/y. Professional & business services hiring was off 10.1% y/y. Factory sector jobs fell 9.6% y/y and government sector hiring dropped 3.0% y/y. Education & health services hiring fell 2.6% y/y. Working up 7.9% y/y was leisure & hospitality hiring while retail trade employment grew 6.1% y/y.

The job separations rate held at 3.2%, its highest since last May but the actual number of separations fell 2.8% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate was unchanged m/m at a low 1.3%. The private sector layoff rate held at 1.4% and in government it was stable at 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, SA) May Apr Mar May'12 2012 2011 2010
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.5 2.2
 Total (000s) 3,828 3,800 3,875 3,774 3,612 3,384 2,930
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.2 3.1 3.4 38.9 37.7 37.4
 Total (000s) 4,441 4,395 4,227 4,526 51,946 49,644 48,637
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.5 15.4 15.4 16.8
 Total (000s) 1,739 1,741 1,686 1,955 20,670 20,320 21,747
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