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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Dips but Hiring Increases
by Tom Moeller  November 13, 2014

The job openings rate during September dipped m/m to 3.3% from its eleven year high of 3.4%. 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 surged 19.9% y/y to 4.735 million. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these figures in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

The private-sector job openings rate slipped to 3.5% from 3.6%. It compared to the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in the professional & business services industries improved to 4.7% and in the health care & social assistance sector, it held steady at 4.2%. The leisure & hospitality rate slipped  to 4.3%. Also steady m/m was the 3.0% rate in trade, transportation & utilities industries. The 2.3% rate in the factory sector has its lowest in five months. The construction rate fell to 1.6%, also the lowest level since April. The job openings rate in the government sector held m/m at 2.0% and remained up from the 1.3% low averaged back in 2008.

Moving in the other direction was the hires rate. It jumped to 3.6%, matching the highest point since December 2007. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate improved to 4.0%. The rate in professional & business services jumped to 5.9%, its highest level since November 2006. The factory sector rate improved to 2.3%, the highest level December 2011. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, the hires rate gained to a recovery high of 6.0% and in education, the rate rose to 2.9%. In construction, the rate fell to 4.5% but the government sector hires rate rose to 1.4%, the highest level in six months.

The number of hires recovered 6.0% m/m and was up 6.9% y/y. Private sector hires gained 6.9% y/y. Education & health services hires jumped 16.3% y/y and professional & business services increased 11.4% y/y. Hiring in the factory sector rose 8.8% y/y while leisure & hospitality sector employment increased 7.7%. Government hiring gained 7.5% y/y.

The job separations rate rose to 3.4% and the actual number of separations increased 6.4% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate rose to 3.8%, while the government sector's rate inched up to 1.4%. The layoff & discharge rate held near the record low of 1.2%. The private sector layoff rate was stable m/m at 1.3% and the government's rate was steady at 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) Sep Aug Jul Sep'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.4 3.2 2.8 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 4,735 4,853 4,605 3,948 3,914 3,646 3,538
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.6 3.4 3.6 3.4 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 5,026 4,742 4,934 4,701 54,139 52,391 50,264
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.3 14.6 15.5 15.7
 Total (000s) 1,647 1,619 1,726 1,783 20,006 20,979 20,735
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