Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| May 01 2024

U.S. Job Openings Fell in March, but So Did Layoffs

  • Job openings rise in just a few industries in March.
  • Hiring declined among many industries in March.
  • Construction job openings fell in March, but so did construction industry layoffs.

Job openings decreased 325,000 in March to 8.488 million after rising 65,000 in February, revised from 8,000 reported before, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The March amount is down -11.8% from 9.623 million a year ago, that is, March 2023, and down even more from 12.182 million in March 2022. The job openings rate, that is, the number of job openings as a percent of employment plus job openings on the last business day of the month, was 5.1% this March, down from 5.3% the prior month.

Private sector job openings fell 364,000 this March, following a 9,000 decline in February. The private sector rate was 5.3%, down from February’s 5.5%. The biggest change in private sector job openings was a 182,000 drop in construction; the rate in that industry fell from 5.3% in February to 3.2% in March. Another sizable decline was in finance and insurance, where opening fell 158,000 in March, and the rate dropped to 5.0% from 7.1% in February. Retail trade saw a 64,000 decrease in openings and a fall in the rate from 3.7% to 3.3%. Industries with positive moves include the information sector, +43,000 openings in March and a rate change from 4.0% to 5.3%. The state and local education sector saw an increase in openings of 68,000 in March, with the associated rate moving to 2.9% from 2.3% the prior month.

Hiring showed widespread declines across industries with total hirings down 281,000 in March, making a rate of 3.5%, down from February’s 3.7%. The rates here are the amount of hiring during the entire month as a percent of total employment. Construction also saw a hiring decline, 59,000, with its rate moving down to 4.1% from 4.9% in February. Transportation, warehousing and utilities saw a 50,000 decrease in March’s hiring, and a decline in the rate to 3.4% from 4.1%. There were just a few increases, notably in private educational services, +10,000 in March and a move in the rate from 2.1% to 2.4%. Another notable increase took place in durable goods manufacturing, 6,000 in March, although this was not large enough to raise the rate in that industry, which stayed flat at 2.2%.

Layoffs actually fell in March by 155,000; the associated rate, that is, layoffs during the whole month as a percent of total employment, was 1.0%, down from 1.1% in February. These decreases in layoffs were spread across numerous industries; interestingly the most sizable decrease was in construction, 63,000, following an increase in that industry’s layoffs in February of 21,000. The March layoff rate in construction was 1.8% in March, down from 2.5% in February. The highest layoff rate among industries was 3.5% in arts, entertainment and recreation, and this was down from 5.0% in February.

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

  • Carol Stone, CBE came to Haver Analytics in 2003 following more than 35 years as a financial market economist at major Wall Street financial institutions, most especially Merrill Lynch and Nomura Securities. She has broad experience in analysis and forecasting of flow-of-funds accounts, the federal budget and Federal Reserve operations. At Nomura Securites, among other duties, she developed various indicator forecasting tools and edited a daily global publication produced in London and New York for readers in Tokyo.   At Haver Analytics, Carol is a member of the Research Department, aiding database managers with research and documentation efforts, as well as posting commentary on select economic reports. In addition, she conducts Ways-of-the-World, a blog on economic issues for an Episcopal-Church-affiliated website, The Geranium Farm.   During her career, Carol served as an officer of the Money Marketeers and the Downtown Economists Club. She has a PhD from NYU's Stern School of Business. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and has a weekend home on Long Island.

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