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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Jumps to 2007 High; Hires Rate Firms a Bit
by Tom Moeller  August 12, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate jumped to 3.3% during June from an unrevised 3.2% in May. The latest  level was the highest since June 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 17.6% y/y to 4.671 million.

The private-sector job openings rate gained to 3.5% from a downwardly revised 3.4%. It was the highest level since June 2007 and up from the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in professional & business services surged to a ten-year high of 4.7%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, the rate slipped a still-strong 4.5%. In the health care & social assistance sector, the job openings rate slipped to 3.8%, but remained well above the 2.9% averages in 2009-2010. The rate in manufacturing held at a firm 2.4% while in construction it improved to 2.1%. The job openings rate in the government sector improved to 2.1%, its highest level since 2010.

The hires rate ticked higher to 3.5%, its recovery high. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate increased to 3.9%, a seven-year high. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms it held at 5.9%. In professional & business services, it improved to 5.4% and the hires rate in retail trade gained to 5.0%. The construction hires rate fell to 4.4% and remained below the 6.9% pace in early-2011. In education & health services, the hires rate edged higher to 2.5%. In the factory sector, the hires rate gained to 2.1% but remained below the 2.5% high late in 2010. The government sector hires rate held at a low 1.3%.

The number of hires recovered 1.9% m/m and jumped 9.3% y/y. Private sector hires gained 10.0% y/y as new retail trade jobs surged by roughly one-quarter y/y. Jobs in education & health services rose 14.0% y/y and hiring in professional & business services increased 8.6% y/y. Leisure & hospitality employment rose 8.1% y/y and factory sector hires improved 10.7% y/y. New hires in construction were off 19.0% y/y and government sector hiring slipped 0.7% y/y.

The job separations rate held at 3.3% and the actual number of separations increased 7.3% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate held at 3.6%, about where it's been since December, and the government sector's rate remained at 1.3%. The layoff & discharge rate remained at 1.2% for the seventh month. The private sector layoff rate fell m/m to 1.3% and the government's rate remained 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) Jun May Apr Jun'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.2 3.1 2.8 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 4,671 4,577 4,464 3,971 3,914 3,646 3,538
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.5 3.4 3.5 3.2 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 4,830 4,738 4,770 4,418 54,139 52,391 50,264
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.2 14.6 15.5 15.7
 Total (000s) 1,622 1,656 1,701 1,662 20,006 20,979 20,735
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