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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Slips
by Tom Moeller  May 9, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate edged down to 2.8% during March from an unrevised 2.9% in February. 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 3.5% y/y to 4.014 million. That growth rate was roughly half the improvement logged last year.

The private-sector job openings rate slipped to 3.0%, still up from the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in professional & business services remained at 4.1%, near the recovery high of 4.3%. The rate in leisure & hospitality businesses increased to a near-high of 4.0%. In the health care & social assistance sector, the job openings rate held at 3.3%. The rate in construction fell sharply to 1.7%, down from the 2.7% in November. In manufacturing it slipped to 2.0%, the lowest level since July. Still lagging was the job openings rate in the government sector where it held m/m at a low 1.7%.

The hires rate held at the recovery high of 3.4%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate slipped to 3.7%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, it declined to 5.5%. In construction, the hires rate fell to 4.4% and remained below the 6.9% rates in early 2011. The hires rate in retail trade slipped to 4.6% while in education & health services it ticked up to 2.6%. In the factory sector, the hires rate held at 1.9% and remained down from the 2.5% high in late 2010. The government sector hires rate was stable at a low 1.4%.

The number of hires declined 1.6% m/m but were up 7.5% y/y. Private sector hires increased 7.3% y/y as new retail trade jobs surged by nearly one-quarter and hiring in professional & business services jumped 15.3% y/y. Factory sector employment gained 13.2% y/y. Education & health services jobs moved 5.4% higher y/y but new hires in construction were off by roughly one-quarter y/y. Government sector hiring jumped 10.3% y/y.

The job separations rate held at 3.2% but the actual number of separations increased 5.9% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate held at 3.6% for the fourth straight month and the government sector's rate ticked up to 1.4%. The layoff & discharge rate equaled the cycle low of 1.1%. The private sector layoff rate held m/m at 1.3% and the government's rate was steady at 0.4%.

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

The Surprisingly Swift Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment from the Federal Reserve Board is available here.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Mar Feb Jan Mar'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.8 2.9 2.7 2.8 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 4,014 4,125 3,874 3,879 3,914 3,646 3,538
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.2 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 4,625 4,699 4,516 4,301 54,139 52,391 50,264
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.3 14.6 15.5 15.7
 Total (000s) 1,574 1,596 1,703 1,755 20,006 20,979 20,735
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