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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Dips
by Tom Moeller  December 8, 2015

The job openings rate retreated to 3.6% during October from 3.7% in September. The latest figure compared to 3.2% one year earlier but was down from the expansion high of 3.8% reached during July. The private sector job openings rate of 3.9% compared to 2.2% in the public sector. 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. Employers are having moderate difficulty finding workers. The hires rate held at 3.6% for the fourth straight month, down from the 3.7% high reached in June. The private sector rate of 4.0% compared to 1.6% in the public sector. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these figures in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

The actual number of job openings fell 2.7% m/m to 5.383 million, reversing most of the prior month's rise. They remained, nevertheless, 11.0% higher versus last year. A 10.1% y/y rise in private sector openings was led by a 27.0% y/y gain in health care & social assistance. That was followed by 26.4% y/y growth in retail trade. Openings in professional & business services increased 10.7% y/y and factory sector openings increased 4.9% y/y. Leisure & hospitality openings improved 1.6% y/y but openings fell 9.4% in construction. In the government sector, job openings increased 21.3% y/y.

The number of hires fell 1.1% m/m to 5.137 million (+0.6% y/y). Private sector hiring eased 0.2% y/y reflecting a 7.3% decline in factory sector employment. A 4.2% y/y shortfall in professional & business services jobs was accompanied by 4.0% y/y fall in retail trade. Offsetting these declines was a 7.4% y/y gain in leisure & hospitality jobs and a 4.8% rise in health care & social assistance. The number of construction sector jobs was unchanged y/y.

The total job separations rate held steady at 3.4% for the fourth straight month, down from a 3.6% March high. The actual number of separations eased 0.9% y/y. Leisure & hospitality separations rose 10.1% y/y and factory sector separations gained 4.7% y/y. These gains were offset by professional & business services where separations fell 8.7% y/y and education & health care separations declined 1.4% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements.

The layoff & discharge rate eased to 1.2% m/m and y/y. The private sector rate of 1.3% compared to 0.5% in the public sector. Layoffs overall declined 4.3% y/y, down 6.3% y/y in the private sector but up by one-third y/y in the public sector.

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 '14 2014 2013 2012
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.6 3.7 3.6 3.2 3.4 2.8 2.6
 Total (000s) 5,383 5,534 5,377 11.0% 22.6% 9.3% 3.2%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.7 42.2 39.8 38.8
 Total (000s) 5,137 5,080 5,081 0.6% 8.4% 3.4% 4.2%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.3 1.2 1.2 14.5 14.6 15.5
 Total (000s) 1,670 1,786 1,725 2.2% 2.4% -4.9% 1.1%
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