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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Stabilizes; Hiring Rate Declines
by Tom Moeller  August 7, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate during June held steady m/m at 4.3%. It remained higher than the 4.0% rate twelve months earlier. (The job openings rate is the job openings level as a percent of total employment plus the job openings level.) The hiring rate fell to 3.8% after rising to an eleven-year high of 3.9% in May.

The private-sector job openings rate held at 4.3% in June, down slightly from April's downwardly revised expansion high of 4.4%. The rate declined in professional & business services (5.1%) and trade, transportation & utilities (4.4%). The rate rose in education & health services (5.2%), education & health services (5.2%), leisure & hospitality (5.2%), construction (3.5%), manufacturing (3.7%) and government (2.7%).

The level of job openings held steady (+8.8% y/y) following a 2.6% May decline. Private-sector openings also were unchanged (8.6% y/y) at 6.053 million. Job openings increased 30.2% y/y in construction and 21.1% y/y in trade, transportation & utilities. Factory sector job openings rose 17.3% y/y, leisure & hospitality openings gained 8.7% y/y and openings in education & health services increased 6.6% y/y. Job openings in professional & business services eased 1.5% y/y. Government sector job openings increased 10.5% y/y.

The private-sector hiring rate in June eased to 4.2% from its eleven-year high of 4.3%. The rate slipped in leisure & hospitality (6.4%), professional & business services (5.6%), construction (5.1%) and education & health services (3.0%). The hiring rate held steady in trade, transportation & utilities (4.0%) and manufacturing (2.8%).

Total hiring rose a lessened 3.4% y/y. Hiring in the private sector also gained 3.4% y/y as the number of education & health services jobs improved 8.4% y/y, factory sector hiring rose 7.7% y/y and construction sector employment increased 5.5% y/y. Showing lesser improvement were professional & business jobs which gained 1.7% y/y and leisure & hospitality hiring which posted a lessened 0.4% y/y gain, following earlier strength.

The overall job separations rate rose m/m in June to 3.7%. It increased to 4.1% in the private sector, and equaled the expansion high. The level of overall separations rose a steady 3.9% y/y, 23.6% y/y in the information sector and 18.4% y/y in financial activities. They rose just 3.8% y/y in manufacturing and 0.3% y/y in professional & business services.

The level of layoffs declined 2.8% y/y, keeping the 1.2% layoff rate down from a 2015 high of 1.4%. In the private sector, the layoff rate fell to 1.3%, but it was only 0.9% in manufacturing as well as in financial activities.

The Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) survey dates to December 2000 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Jun May Apr Jun'17 Jun'16 Jun'15
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 4.3 4.3 4.4 4.0 3.8 3.5
 Total (000s) 6,662 6,659 6,840 6,125 5,651 5,165
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  3.8 3.9 3.8 3.7 3.6 3.6
 Total (000s) 5,651 5,747 5,581 5,467 5,236 5,132
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.3
 Total (000s) 1,638 1,538 1,640 1,668 1,519 1,675
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