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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Reach An All-Time High
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  May 3, 2022

• The number of job openings reached a series high in March.

• New hires edged down.

• Quits and layoffs rose.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on the last business day of March, the total number of job openings was at a series high of 11.549 million, 1.8% m/m (+36.2% y/y) from February's 11.344 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 7.1% in March, up from 7.0% in February. New hires edged down 1.4% m/m (+8.5% y/y) to 6.737 million. The hiring rate was to 4.5% in March, unchanged from February.

The total number of job quits rose 3.5% m/m (+22.8% y/y) to 4.536 million from 4.384 million in February. The quits rate edged up to 3.0% from February's 2.9%. Layoffs and discharges totaled 1.405 million in March, up 3.8% m/m (-7.1% y/y) from 1.354 million in February. The JOLTS figures date back to December 2000.

Private-sector job openings rose 2.4% m/m (+37.1% y/y) in March, to 10.504 million, with the private-sector job openings rate at 7.5%, up from 7.4% in February.

Among select industries, openings in professional and business services were up 5.1% m/m (+34.8% y/y) in March to 2.141 million. Job openings in health care and social assistance were 2.027 million, down 1.2% m/m (+48.0% y/y). In manufacturing, job opening rose 9.6% m/m (+14.5% y/y) in March to 860,000. They rose 2.2% m/m (+22.1% y/y) in trade, transportation and utilities to 2.036 million. Government sector job openings were 1.044 million at the end of March, down 4.0% m/m and up 27.6% y/y.

Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The level of private sector separations was 5.917 million in March, up 4.2% m/m and 13.5% y/y. The private sector quits rate was 3.3%, up slightly from 3.2% in February.

Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. In the private sector, these were 1.320 million in March, up from 1.273 million in February. The layoff and discharge rate in March was 1.0%, unchanged from February. Among various industries, layoffs and discharges were 371,000 in professional and business services, a rate of 1.7%. In leisure and hospitality, they were 186,000, a rate of 1.2%. In manufacturing, there were 101,000 layoffs and discharges, a rate of 0.8% and in construction, 121,000, representing a rate of 1.6%.

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

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