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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings and Hires Rates Are Stable
by Tom Moeller  March 11, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate held at 2.8% versus an unrevised 2.8% in December. Earlier figures were revised slightly. The rate has moved sideways during the last twelve months. 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 7.6% y/y to 3.974 million.

The private-sector job openings rate held at 3.0%, up from the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in leisure & hospitality businesses jumped to a recovery high of 4.2%. The rate in professional & business services slipped to 3.4% and remained down from the 4.0% high early last year. In the health & social assistance sector, the job openings rate recovered to 3.3%. The rate in construction increased to 2.6%, but in manufacturing it declined to 2.2%. Still lagging was the job openings rate in the government sector where it notched up m/m to a low 1.7%.

The hires rate held at 3.3%, down 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 in January remained at 3.7%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, it held at 5.5%. In construction, the hires rate improved to 4.8% but remained below the 6.9% rates in early 2011. The hiring rate in retail trade slipped to 4.1% while in education & health services it recovered to 2.6%. In the factory sector, the hiring rate slipped m/m to 2.0% and remained down from the 2.5% high in late 2010. The government sector hires rate held at a low 1.3%.

The number of hires fell 0.9% m/m in January, but were up 3.3% y/y. Private sector hires increased 3.5% y/y, but jobs in hiring in professional & business services surged 15.1% y/y. Jobs in manufacturing gained 5.1% y/y and in education & health services they rose 4.6% y/y. New employment in leisure & hospitality edged 0.8% higher y/y. New hires in construction declined 13.9% y/y but government sector hiring improved 1.1% y/y.

The job separations rate slipped to 3.2% during January but the actual number of separations rose 4.5% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate held at 3.6% and the government sector's rate was stable at 1.4%. The layoff & discharge rate rose to 1.3% in January, up from the recent low of 1.1%. The private sector layoff rate held m/m at 1.4% while the government's rate was stable at 0.5%.

The JOLTS survey dates to December 2000 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Jan Dec Nov Jan'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.8 2.8 2.9 2.7 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 3,974 3,914 4,126 3,693 3,914 3,646 3,538
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.2 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 4,535 4,578 4,574 4,389 54,139 52,391 50,264
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.3 1.2 1.1 1.2 14.6 15.5 15.7
 Total (000s) 1,736 1,702 1,511 1,578 20,006 20,979 20,735
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