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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Nearly Steady in February
by Carol Stone, CBE  March 29, 2022

• Job openings rate unchanged at 7.0%.

• Hirings increase enough that rate rose.

• Quits rose while layoffs & discharged eased.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on the last business day of February, the total number of job openings was 11.266 million, down 0.2% (+43.3% y/y) from January’s 11.283 million. With this small change in the number of job openings, the job openings rate, calculated as job openings as a percent of the sum of total employment and openings, was steady at 7.0%. New hires were up 4.1% (+11.0% y/y) to 6.689 million. The hiring rate ticked up to 4.4% from January’s 4.3%. The number of job quits rose 2.2% (+26.5% y/y) to 4.352 million from 4.258 million in January. The quits rate edged up to 2.9% in February from January’s 2.8%. Layoffs and discharges totaled 1.386 million in February, down 1.2% (-15.5% y/y) from January’s 1.403 million. The JOLTS figures date back to December 2000.

Private-sector job openings fell 0.5% in February (+42.9% y/y) to 10.185 million, with the private-sector job openings rate steady at 7.4%. Among select industries, openings were largest in professional and business services, up 0.5% in February (+39.5% y/y), to 2.088 million. The next largest industry, not surprisingly, was health care and social assistance, 2.022 million, up 2.2% m/m (34.8% y/y). In manufacturing, job opening fell 5.9% in February (+40.0% y/y) to 808,000. They rose 1.7% in trade, transportation and utilities (+26.5% y/y) to 1.863 million. Government sector job openings were 1.081 million at the end of February, up 3.1% m/m and 47.7% y/y.

Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The level of private sector separations were 5.693 million in February, up 0.4% m/m and 12.0% y/y. The private sector quits rate was 3.2%, the same as in January.

Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. In the private sector, these were 1.307 million in February, down from 1.327 million in January. The layoff & discharge rate in February was 1.0%, still close to its level of the preceding nine months. Among various industries, layoffs and discharges were 404,000 in professional and business services, a rate of 1.8%. In leisure and hospitality, they were 169,000, a rate of 1.1%. In manufacturing, there were 101,000 layoffs and discharges, a rate of 0.8% and in construction, 155,000, representing a rate of 2.0%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Feb Jan Dec Feb'21 Feb'20 Feb'19
 Rate (%) 7.0 7.0 7.1 5.2 4.4 4.5
 Total (000s) 11,266 11,283 11,448 7,860 7,006 7,058
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 4.4 4.3 4.3 4.2 4.0 3.8
 Total (000s) 6,689 6,426 6,450 6,028 6,025 5,684
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.1 1.3 1.2
 Total (000s) 1,386 1,403 1,262 1,641 1,973 1,789
Quits, Total
 Rate (%) 2.9 2.8 3.0 2.4 2.3 2.4
 Total (000s) 4,352 4,258 4,403 3,439 3,445 3,558
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