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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings and Hiring Rates Erode
by Tom Moeller  January 9, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate in November fell to 3.8%, its lowest level in six months. The hiring rate also fell slightly to 3.7% from the expansion high of 3.8%. These figures are from the Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which dates back to December 2000.

The private sector job openings rate fell to 4.1% from 4.2%. The decline was pronounced in the factory sector and professional & business services. The rate improved in leisure & hospitality as well as trade, transportation & utilities and construction. In health care & government, the rate held steady.

The total number of job openings eased 0.8% (+4.4% y/y) reflecting a 0.9% drop (+6.0% y/y) in the private sector total. The job openings decline included the manufacturing, professional & business services and health care & social assistance sectors. The number of job openings rose in construction, trade transportation & utilities and leisure & hospitality.

The private sector hiring rate slipped from the cycle high to 4.1% led by the construction, professional & business services and leisure & hospitality sectors. Elsewhere, the hiring rate rose moderately or held steady.

The overall number of hires fell 1.9% (+4.3% y/y), with sharp declines in leisure and hospitality, construction and professional & business services. Hiring improved in manufacturing, education & social services and government.

The overall job separations rate eased to 3.5%, the lowest level since April. The decline was led by the financial activities, construction, information, professional & business services and education sectors. The leisure & hospitality, manufacturing and trade transportation & utilities areas showed improvement.

The layoff & discharge rate declined to 1.1%, the lowest level in six months. The decline was evident in the professional & business services, financial services and education sectors. Layoffs & discharges increased amongst manufacturing, information as well as leisure & hospitalitys firms. The actual number of discharges eased 0.4% (+1.6% y/y) to the lowest level in six months. Professional & business service sector layoffs declined, but firing rose in manufacturing, trade, transportation & utilities and the leisure & hospitality 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 '16 2016 2015 2014
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.8 3.9 4.0 3.7 3.7 3.6 3.3
 Total (000s) 5,879 5,925 6,177 4.4% 3.1% 12.1% 28.1%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.7 3.8 3.6 3.6 43.6 43.5 42.4
 Total (000s) 5,488 5,592 5,320 4.3% 1.2% 5.8% 8.2%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.1 13.7 14.8 14.7
 Total (000s) 1,686 1,693 1,746 1.6% -4.8% 2.8% 2.3%
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