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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Reaches New High
by Tom Moeller  February 10, 2015

The job openings rate during December jumped to 3.5%, a record high. During all of 2014, the 3.5% rate was near the record reached in 2000. 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 28.5% y/y to 5.028 million, the highest level since 2001. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these figures in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

The private-sector job openings rate gained to 3.7%, its highest level since February 2001 and up from the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in professional & business services jumped to 5.0% and the rate in leisure & hospitality gained slightly to 4.2% In health care & social services, it jumped to a cycle high of 4.3% while in trade, transportation & utilities it held at 3.2%, up from the recession low of 1.2%. The rate in the factory sector slipped to 2.4%, but was near the highest level since 2012. The construction rate improved to 2.3%. The job openings rate in the government sector increased to 2.3%, its highest level since April 2010 and up from the 2009 low of 1.1%.

The hires rate returned to the expansion high of 3.7%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate was at the 4.1% recovery high. In the construction sector, the rate surged to 6.4%, its highest since February 2013. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, the rate dipped to 6.2% from its 6 year high of 6.2%. The rate in professional & business services improved slightly to 5.3%. The hiring rate in education & health services notched up to a 2.7% but in the factory sector it recovered to 2.2%, near the middle of the last year's range. In the government sector, the hiring rate improved to 1.5%, its highest the Census was taken in 2010.

The number of hires recovered 1.9% m/m but increased 12.5% y/y. Private sector hires increased 12.4% y/y, nearly the expansion high. Construction sector jobs rose more than one-half y/y. Leisure hospitality hiring jumped 16.0% y/y while health care & social services employment advanced 13.0% y/y. Factory sector jobs improved 7.1% y/y as professional & business services hiring increased 6.3% y/y. Government hiring rose 13.2% y/y.

The job separations rate rose to its expansion high of 3.5% and the actual number of separations increased 9.4% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate recovered to a high of 3.9% while the government sector's rate rose to 1.4%. The layoff & discharge rate held at 1.2%, near the record low. The private sector layoff rate edged up m/m to 1.4% and the government's rate held at 0.5%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Dec Nov Oct Dec '13 2014 2013 2012
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.5 3.3 3.3 2.8 (y/y) 3.5 2.8 2.6
 Total (000s) 5,028 4,847 4,830 28.5% 28.5% 7.4% 3.1%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.7 3.6 3.7 3.3 (y/y) 42.1 39.6 38.8
 Total (000s) 5,148 5,054 5,101 12.5% 7.6% 3.3% 4.2%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.2 (y/y) 14.5 14.6 15.5
 Total (000s) 1,726 1,655 1,757 1.4% 0.4% -4.6% 1.2%
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