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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Improves as Hiring Remains Firm
by Tom Moeller  December 9, 2014

The job openings rate during October ticked up to 3.3%, close to where it's been for six months. 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 21.0% y/y to 4.834 million. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these figures in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

The private-sector job openings rate recovered to 3.6% its highest level since April 2001, up from the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in leisure & hospitality businesses was 4.7%, the highest point since May. The rate in the professional & business services industries held at 4.6% for the third straight month and in the health care & social assistance sector it remained high at 4.1%. The 3.1% rate in trade, transportation & utilities industries was up from the recession low of 1.2%. The 2.3% rate in the factory sector was down after five months at 2.4%. The construction rate improved to 2.2%. The job openings rate in the government sector fell m/m to 1.8%, its lowest level since March..

The hires rate held at its cycle high of 3.6%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate slipped to 4.1%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms the rate held at 6.0%. The rate in professional & business services retreated to 5.6% but in construction it improved to 5.0%. The hiring rate in education slipped to 2.8% but in the factory sector it held at 2.3%. In the government sector the hiring rate held at a low 1.4%.

The number of hires slipped 0.4% m/m but increased 12.0% y/y. Private sector hires rose 12.2% y/y. Professional & business services hiring increased 21.8% y/y and factory sector employment grew 20.1% y/y. Trade, transportation & utilities jobs rose 18.3% y/y. Hiring in the health care & social assistance sector improved 13.4% y/y and leisure & hospitality sector employment increased 8.6%. Government hiring rose 8.9% y/y.

The job separations rate jumped to 3.5% and the actual number of separations increased 12.1% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate held at 3.8%, while the government sector's rate inched remained at 1.4%. The layoff & discharge rate held near the record low of 1.2%. The private sector layoff rate inched up m/m to 1.4% 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.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Oct Sep Aug Oct.'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.2 3.4 2.8 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 4,834 4,685 4,853 21.0% 7.4% 3.1% 22.4%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.6 3.6 3.4 3.4 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 5,055 5,075 4,742 12.0% 3.3% 4.2% 3.0%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.1 14.6 15.5 15.7
 Total (000s) 2.8% 2.1% -6.2% 9.9% -4.6% 1.2% -4.8%
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