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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Continues to Climb; Hires Rate Fails to Keep Pace
by Tom Moeller  July 8, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate increased to 3.2% during May from an unrevised 3.1% in April. The latest  level was the highest since September 2007. 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 19.5% y/y to 4.635 million.

The private-sector job openings rate surged to 3.5%, its highest level since June 2007 and up from the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in leisure & hospitality businesses increased to a new high of 4.6%. The rate in professional & business services surged to 4.6%, the highest level since January 2006. In the health care & social assistance sector, the job openings rate improved to 3.9%. The rate in construction rose to 2.1%, down versus the 2.7% in November. In manufacturing it edged up to 2.4%. Still lagging was the job openings rate in the government sector which was stable m/m at a low 1.9%.

The hires rate slipped to 3.4% from its recovery high of 3.5%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate remained at 3.8% where it's been for six months. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, it slipped to 5.7%. In professional & business services it fell to 5.1% and the hires rate in retail trade slipped to 4.9%. In construction the rate improved to 5.2%, though it remained below the 6.9% pace in early-2011. In education & health services, the hires rate slipped to 2.5%. In the factory sector, the hires rate held at 2.0% and remained below the 2.5% high late in 2010. The government sector hires rate held at a low 1.3%.

The number of hires reversed the prior months' gain but remained up 3.9% y/y. Private sector hires gained 3.7% y/y as new retail trade jobs surged 17.4% y/y and hiring in professional & business services increased 5.6% y/y. Leisure & hospitality employment rose 5.0% y/y but factory sector hires declined 2.8% y/y. Education & health services jobs fell 4.3% y/y and new hires in construction were off 5.7% y/y. Government sector hiring increased 6.6% y/y but the level of hiring was the lowest since January.

The job separations rate slipped to 3.2% but the actual number of separations increased 2.1% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate slipped to 3.6%, about where it's been since December, and the government sector's rate held at 1.3%. The layoff & discharge rate fell to 1.1% and equaled the series' low. The private sector layoff rate fell m/m to 1.3% and the government's rate held at 0.4%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) May Apr Mar May'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.2 3.1 2.9 2.8 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 4,635 4,464 4,166 3,879 3,914 3,646 3,538
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.4 3.5 3.4 3.3 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 4,718 4,770 4,706 4,541 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) 1,575 1,701 1,638 1,783 20,006 20,979 20,735
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