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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings and Hires Rates Hold Steady
by Tom Moeller  September 9, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate during July held m/m at 3.3% following its jump from 2.8% at yearend 2013. 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 22.5% y/y to 4.673 million.

The private-sector job openings rate improved 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 remained at the ten-year high of 4.5%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, the rate fell to a still-strong 4.2%. In the health care & social assistance sector, the job openings rate held at 3.9% and remained well above the 2.9% averages in 2009-2010. The rate in manufacturing was steady at a firm 2.4% while in construction it slipped to 2.3%. The job openings rate in the government sector was steady at 2.2%, up from 1.3% to 1.7% averaged back to 2008.

The hires rate held at 3.5%, its recovery high. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate was stable at 3.9%, a seven-year high. The construction hires rate jumped to 6.1% from its recent lows near 4.5%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms it held at a modestly lower 5.8%. In professional & business services, it was stable at 5.2% and the hires rate in retail trade gained to 5.1%. In education & health services, the hires rate was stable at 2.5%. In the factory sector, the hires rate slipped to 2.1% and remained below the 2.5% high late in 2010. The government sector hires rate improved to a low 1.4%.

The number of hires improved 1.7% m/m and jumped 7.7% y/y. Private sector hires gained 7.6% y/y as new retail trade jobs surged 21.3% y/y and construction sector employment rebounded 19.2% y/y. Factory sector hiring improved 12.1% y/y while leisure & hospitality employment rose 8.6% y/y. Government sector hiring recovered 8.4% y/y and jobs in professional & business services increased 4.8% y/y. To the downside, hiring in education & health services industries slipped 0.4% y/y.

The job separations rate held at 3.3% and the actual number of separations increased 5.7% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate inched up to 3.7%, its highest level since September 2013, while the government sector's rate fell to 1.2%, the lowest level since last summer. The layoff & discharge rate remained at 1.2% for the eighth strait month. The private sector layoff rate inched up m/m to 1.4% but the government's rate fell to 0.3%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Jul Jun May Jul'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.3 3.2 2.7 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 4,673 4,675 4,577 3,816 3,914 3,646 3,538
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.3 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 4,872 4,791 4,738 4,525 54,139 52,391 50,264
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 14.6 15.5 15.7
 Total (000s) 1,659 1,657 1,656 1,666 20,006 20,979 20,735
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