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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Improves
by Tom Moeller  January 12, 2016

The job openings rate increased to 3.7% during November from 3.6% in October. The latest figure compared to 3.4% 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 fifth 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 1.5% m/m to 5.431 million. They remained 11.2% higher versus last year. An 11.3% y/y rise in private sector openings was led by a 34.2% y/y surge in health care & social assistance. That was followed by 24.0% y/y growth in leisure & hospitality and a 9.8% improvement in professional & business services. Retail trade openings grew 7.0% y/y while openings rose 3.8% in construction. Factory sector openings declined 11.4% y/y. In the government sector, job openings increased 9.5% y/y.

The number of hires increased 0.6% m/m to 5.197 million (3.4% y/y). Private sector hiring grew 2.9% y/y, reflecting an 11.6% increase in leisure & hospitality hiring and a 10.1% y/y gain in the number of construction sector jobs. Health care & social assistance jobs grew 6.4% and professional & business services jobs improved 3.2% y/y. The factory sector added 1.9% more workers but retail trade jobs declined 2.6% y/y. Government sector hiring grew 10.6% y/y.

The total job separations rate rose to 3.5% after four months at 3.4%. That was down from a 3.6% March high. The actual number of separations increased 6.5% y/y. Factory sector separations jumped 22.3% y/y while education & health care separations gained 14.2% y/y. Professional & business services separations increased 10.3% y/y and leisure & hospitality separations rose 8.8% y/y. Retail trade separations rose 0.3% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements.

The layoff & discharge rate remained at 1.2% m/m but was up from 1.1% last November. The private sector rate of 1.3% compared to 0.5% in the public sector. Layoffs overall rebounded 5.4% y/y in the private sector but jumped 14.9% 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) Nov Oct Sep Nov '14 2014 2013 2012
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.7 3.6 3.7 3.4 3.4 2.8 2.6
 Total (000s) 5,431 5,349 5,534 11.2% 22.6% 9.3% 3.2%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.6 42.2 39.8 38.8
 Total (000s) 5,197 5,168 5,080 3.4% 8.4% 3.4% 4.2%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.1 14.5 14.6 15.5
 Total (000s) 1,690 1,703 1,786 6.0% 2.4% -4.9% 1.1%
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