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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Market Tightness Loosens in January
by Tom Moeller  March 9, 2022

• Job openings fall from record level.

• Both hiring level & hiring rate slip.

• Separations rise but quits fall.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on the last business day of January, the total number of job openings fell 1.6% (+55.7% y/y) to 11.263 million. The job openings rate, calculated as job openings as a percent of the sum of total employment and openings, eased to 7.0% from 7.1%. New hires rose 0.1% (+12.9% y/y) to 6.457 million. The hiring rate held steady m/m at 4.3%. The number of job quits fell 3.4% (+28.4% y/y) to 4.252 million from the near record 4.403 million recorded in December. The quits rate edged down to 2.8% in January from a record 3.0% in each of the prior two months. Layoffs and discharges rose 12.0% (-10.6% y/y) in January to 1.414 million. The JOLTS figures date back to December 2000.

Private-sector job openings fell 1.1% in January (+57.8% y/y) to 10.234 million as the private-sector job openings rate eased to 7.4% from 7.5% in December. Openings in leisure & hospitality rose 115.1% y/y, manufacturing rose 63.8% y/y and professional & business services increased 42.2% y/y. Trade, transportation & utilities openings gained 32.8% y/y while construction sector job openings rose 27.1% y/y. Job openings in the nondurable goods sector gained 53.7% y/y while government sector job openings increased 37.9% y/y.

Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The level of private sector separations rose 16.4% y/y in January while the private sector separations rate edged up to 4.5%. The private sector quits rate eased to 3.2% and remained below the record 3.4% in November. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. In the private sector, January's layoff & discharge rate of 1.0% stayed close to its level of the last nine months.

The level of private-sector layoffs and discharges rose to 1.338 million (-10.6% y/y) in January from the record low of 1.183 million in December. Layoffs fell 18.0% in construction. Layoffs in trade, transportation and utilities fell 18.2% y/y while professional and business services layoffs declined 17.6% y/y. Leisure and hospitality layoffs fell 12.7% y/y. Working the other way, manufacturing layoffs & discharges rose 23.7% y/y and in education and health services, they rose 9.6% y/y.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Jan Dec Nov Jan'21 Jan'20 Jan'19
 Rate (%) 7.0 7.1 6.8 4.8 4.5 4.7
 Total (000s) 11,263 11,448 10,922 7,232 7,161 7,473
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 4.3 4.3 4.5 4.0 3.9 3.8
 Total (000s) 6,457 6,450 6,705 5,719 6,005 5,778
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 0.9 0.8 0.9 1.1 1.2 1.2
 Total (000s) 1,414 1,262 1,295 1,582 1,821 1,735
Quits, Total
 Rate (%) 2.8 3.0 3.0 2.3 2.4 2.4
 Total (000s) 4,252 4,403 4,510 3,311 3,578 3,545
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