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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Dips in July
by Carol Stone  September 10, 2013

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its July Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate eased in July to 2.6% from 2.8% in June, which was unrevised. 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, 3.689 million, declined 4.7% from June's number, which was revised downward to a 1.0% decline from the original 0.7% increase. July's total was, however, 5.4% above July 2012. The 2.6% rate, while down to its low since January, has been range-bound from 2.5% to 2.8% since late in 2011.

The private-sector job openings rate came down to 2.8% in July from a downward revised 2.9% in June, originally reported at the recovery high of 3.0%. The drop was most noticeable in professional & business services, which moved down to 3.0% from 3.6% in June. The openings rate in construction fell to 1.7% from 2.0% in June and that in trade and transportation to 2.5% in July from 2.7% the month before. Education and health and arts and recreation each ticked down 0.1% and government was unchanged at 1.8%. On the improving side, accommodation and food services rose from 3.5% in June to 3.6%, its highest since June 2008. And manufacturing rebounded to 1.9% in July from the weak 1.7% the prior month.

The hires rate held at June's 3.2% level, but that was revised up from the original 3.1%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector rose to 3.6% and was revised up slightly in June. The hire rate in government again held steady at 1.3%. In arts and entertainment, the hiring rate fell to 5.3% from 6.5% in June, and that in accommodation and food services held at 5.4%. In professional & business services the hires rate was revised upward to 5.0% in June and held there in July. In construction the hiring rate was also flat in July, at 5.3%. The factory sector hires rate rose to 2.0% in July from 1.9% in June. In education & health services the rate was revised from ab initial 2.2% in June to 2.3% and recovered further to 2.5% in July.

The number of hires increased 2.3% in July after falling 3.8% in June and were 5.9% ahead of a year ago. Professional & business services hiring, as its rate, was revised upward in June and for July amounted to 13.6% more than July 2012. Factory sector hires were off 1.3% year-on-year, a relative improvement from June's 20.5% y/y drop. Government sector hiring was up 2.9% y/y. Education & health services hiring reversed a June drop and was 6.8% larger in July than a year ago. Transportation and trade moved the same way; after a y/y decline in June, July hiring was 5.9% above July 2012. Arts and entertainment went the other way, reversing a strong June comparison to show a 3.6% y/y fall for July. Accommodation and food services is on a four-month uptrend in year-to-year gains but July was the slowest of these at 6.5%.

The job separations rate was 3.0% in July, down from 3.1% in June. The actual number of separations was up 3.3% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate was 1.1% in July after an upward revised 1.2% in June; 1.1% remains the series low, with a recession peak of 2.0% in early 2009. The private sector layoff rate eased to 1.2% in July and in government it slipped to 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) Jul Jun May Jul'12 2012 2011 2010
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.6 2.8 2.8 2.5 2.6 2.5 2.2
 Total (000s) 3,689 3,869 3,907 3,499 3,612 3,384 2,930
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.2 3.2 3.3 3.1 38.9 37.7 37.4
 Total (000s) 4,419 4,308 4,490 4,171 51,946 49,644 48,637
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.3 15.4 15.4 16.8
 Total (000s) 1,513 1,602 1,752 1,534 20,670 20,320 21,747
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