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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Holds Steady But Hires Slip
by Tom Moeller  December 10, 2013

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the October job openings rate held m/m at 2.8%. That nevertheless was up from 2.6% twelve months earlier 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 7.7% y/y to 3.925 million.

The private-sector job openings rate was steady at 3.0%. The rate in leisure & hospitality businesses increased to 3.8%, the highest since May 2008. The rate in professional & business services rose to 3.7%, but remained down from the 4.2% high early last year. In the health & social assistance sector, the job openings rate slipped to 3.2%. The rate in manufacturing ticked up to 2.3% and in construction it edged lower to 2.1%. Still lagging was the job openings rate in the government sector where it held at 1.7%, its lowest level since December.

The hires rate slipped to 3.3% from its expansion high of 3.4% in September. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector slipped to 3.7% but amongst leisure & hospitality firms it edged up to 5.8%. In construction the hires rate rose to 5.3% but remained below the 6.5% rates common early in 2011. The hiring rate in retail trade edged up to 4.4% while in education & health services it held 2.6%. In the factory sector, the hiring rate slipped m/m to 2.0% but remained improved from 1.7% in March. The government sector hires rate ticked up to 1.4%.

The number of hires fell 2.7% m/m in October but were 5.2% above last year. Private sector hires increased 4.3% y/y. Hiring in leisure & hospitality grew 10.5% y/y while new hires in health services increased 8.8% y/y. Jobs in retail trade advanced 8.4% y/y. Hiring in professional & business services grew 1.0% y/y while new employment inched up 0.4% y/y in the factory sector. Government sector hiring rose 3.2% y/y.

The job separations rate declined to 3.1% during October as the actual number of separations increased 4.2%. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate fell to 3.4% but the government sector's rate gained to 1.5%, a twelve month high. The layoff & discharge rate fell back to 1.1% in October. That's versus a recession peak of 2.0% in early 2009. The private sector layoff rate dropped sharply to 1.2% while the government's rate held at 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, SA) Oct Sep Aug Oct'12 2012 2011 2010
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.8 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.5 2.2
 Total (000s) 3,925 3,883 3,844 3,646 3,612 3,384 2,930
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.4 3.3 3.2 38.9 37.7 37.4
 Total (000s) 4,509 4,632 4,599 4,287 51,946 49,644 48,637
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.3 1.2 1.2 15.4 15.4 16.8
 Total (000s) 1,474 1,756 1,676 1,672 20,670 20,320 21,747
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