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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Weakens in November
by Tom Moeller  January 4, 2022

• Job openings reverse earlier improvement.

• Hiring increases to four-month high.

• Quits surge to record.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on the last business day of November, the total job openings rate fell to 6.6% from a record 7.0% in October, revised from 6.9%. It was the lowest rate since June. The job openings rate is calculated as job openings as a percent of total employment plus jobs that have not yet been filled. The level of job openings fell 4.8% (+56.1% y/y) to 10.562 million from 11.091 million. November was the lowest level since June. The hiring rate increased to 4.5% from 4.4% in each of the prior three months. It was well above the 3.8% low this past January. The level of hiring rose 2.9% (11.3% y/y) to 6.697 million. The overall layoff & discharge rate remained at the record low of 0.9% for the fourth consecutive month. The level of layoffs & discharges rose 1.4% m/m but fell 35.5% y/y. The quits rate returned in November to the record high of 3.0% and compared to the most recent low of 1.6% in April 2020. The level of quits rose 37.3% y/y to a record 4.527 million. The JOLTS figures date back to December 2000.

The private-sector job openings rate fell to 7.0% from the record 7.4% October. It was up from a 3.6% low in April 2020. The highest rates were in leisure & hospitality (8.7%) and professional & business services (7.8%). The government sector job openings rate rose to 4.2% from 4.0% in October. It was 3.1% in November 2020. The level of private sector job openings fell 5.6% (+58.0% y/y) to 9.601 million, the lowest level since June. The number of government job openings rose 4.8% (39.8% y/y).

The private sector hiring rate edged higher to 5.0% in November but remained below the June high of 5.2%. A hiring rate of 8.1% in leisure & hospitality compared to 5.6% in construction. In the government sector, the hiring rate improved to 1.8%. The level of private sector hiring rose 2.7% in November (11.6% y/y) to 6.305 million. Government sector hiring rose 7.1% (5.9% y/y) in November, about the same m/m increase as in October.

Data on job separations reflect a combination of layoffs and quits. The total separations rate edged up to 4.2% in November but remained below the record 10.8% in March of last year. The private sector separations rate increased to 4.7% in November, the highest rate since April 2020. The government sector separation rate held steady at 1.6% in November, down from 2.0% one year earlier. The level of all separations rose 9.2% y/y. Private sector separations increased 11.7% y/y but government sector separations declined 21.0% y/y.

The layoff & discharge rate in the private sector remained at the record low of 1.0%. The 0.6% layoff & discharge rate in education & health services compared to a lessened 1.4% in professional & business services. In the government sector, the layoff & discharge rate was 0.3% for the third straight month.

The strength of the job market has generated more job-hopping. The private sector quits rate reached a record 3.4% in November, up from 1.8% in the spring of 2020. The leisure & hospitality quits rate of 6.4% compared to 2.8% in education & health services. The quits rate in the government sector remained low at 1.0% but it still was higher than 0.7% from this past May to July. The November level of job quits in the private sector increased 9.3% (38.5% y/y) versus October. In the government sector the level of quits rose 1.9% (18.0% y/y), the fourth straight month of strong increase.

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

Make-up Strategies for Monetary Policy from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Nov Oct Sep Nov'20 Nov'19 Nov'18
 Rate (%) 6.6 7.0 6.7 4.5 4.4 4.8
 Total (000s) 10,562 11,091 10,602 6,766 6,915 7,574
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 4.5 4.4 4.4 4.2 3.8 3.9
 Total (000s) 6,697 6,506 6,546 6,019 5,842 5,815
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.5 1.2 1.3
 Total (000s) 1,369 1,350 1,396 2,123 1,788 1,905
Quits, Total
 Rate (%) 3.0 2.8 3.0 2.3 2.3 2.3
 Total (000s) 4,527 4,157 4,362 3,296 3,482 3,435
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