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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Reach Another Record in June
by Tom Moeller  August 9, 2021

• Total job openings & hires rates surge.

• Layoff rate steadies.

• Quits increase sharply.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on the last business day of June, the level of job openings rose slightly m/m to a record 10.07 million from 9.48 million in May, revised from 9.21 million. The total job openings rate surged to a record 6.5% from 6.1%, revised from 6.0%. The job openings rate is calculated as job openings as a percent of total employment plus jobs that have not yet been filled. The hiring rate rose to 4.6% from 4.2%. It was the highest rate since August 2020 and higher than the 3.8% low in January & December. The overall layoff & discharge rate held steady at a record low of 0.9%. The quits rate rose to 2.7% from 2.5%, continuing its upward trend from a low of 1.6% in April 2020. The JOLTS figures date back to December 2000.

The private-sector job opening rate jumped to a record 6.9% in June from 6.5% in May. It was increased from 3.6% last April. The leisure & hospitality rate surged to a record 10.1% while the professional & business services rate surged to 7.9% from 7.0% in May. The factory sector job openings rate eased to 6.3% from the record 6.5% in May, but the education & health services rate rose to a record 6.7%. The construction sector rate increased to 4.4%. The government sector job openings rate rose slightly in June to 4.0% and remained near the record high. The private sector job openings level rose 6.4%, up three-quarters y/y, to 9.154 million.

Employers are continuing to have difficulty finding workers as hiring lags job openings. In June, the private sector hiring rate rose sharply to 5.1%. It remained well below the record 7.2% in May of last year. The level of private sector hiring surged 10.2% in June (-15.5% y/y) to 6.286 million.

Data on job separations reflect a combination of layoffs and quits. The separations rate of 3.8% in June compared to the record 10.8% in March of last year. The level of separations rose 7.8% y/y. Private sector separations increased 12.6% y/y and the private separations rate rose to 4.3% from 4.1% in May. The government's separation rate fell to 1.2% and matched the record low.

The layoff & discharge rate in the private sector held in June at the record low of 1.0%. It compared to a record low of 0.3% in government.

As the labor market firms, workers look for new job opportunities. The 3.0% quits rate in the private sector was up modestly m/m but remained well above 2.1% twelve months earlier. It has been trending higher since the recent low of 1.8% in the spring of 2020. It compared to 0.8% in government. The level of job quits in the private sector increased by one-half y/y. In government, the level of quits fell 13.8% y/y.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Jun May Apr Jun'20 Jun'19 Jun'18
 Rate (%) 6.5 6.1 6.0 4.2 4.5 4.7
 Total (000s) 10,073 9,483 9,193 6,112 7,165 7,271
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  4.6 4.2 4.2 5.6 3.8 3.9
 Total (000s) 6,719 6,022 6,012 7,697 5,776 5,777
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 0.9 0.9 1.0 1.6 1.2 1.2
 Total (000s) 1,310 1,353 1,450 2,204 1,771 1,793
Quits, Total
 Rate (%) 2.7 2.5 2.8 1.9 2.3 2.3
 Total (000s) 3,869 3,630 3,992 2,646 3,527 3,401
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