Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Apr 02 2024

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rise Slightly in February

  • Openings remain well below 2022 high.
  • Hires improve, but are sharply lower y/y.
  • Quits edge higher but layoffs jump.

Job openings edged up 8,000 during February (-11.1% y/y) to 8.756 million after falling 141,000 in January, revised from a 26,000 decline, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The number of job openings have been trending lower since early-2022. The latest reading is well below the recent peak of 12.182 million reached in March 2022. The job openings rate was 5.3% for the third straight month, off from a high of 7.4% in March 2022. This rate is calculated as the ratio of job openings to total nonfarm employment plus openings.

Private sector openings declined 0.6% (-11.1% y/y) to 7.855 million in February. The private job openings rate eased to 5.5% from 5.6% in January. It was 6.2% twelve months earlier. The level of leisure & hospitality openings rose 2.0% (-19.4% y/y) but information openings weakened 42.1% (-19.3% y/y). Trade, transportation & utilities openings fell 6.2% (-41.8% y/y) while openings in professional & business services eased 0.4% (-12.6% y/y). Private educational openings declined 1.9% (+8.6% y/y). Mining openings jumped 10.3% (-8.6% y/y) while construction openings rose 3.8% (7.8% y/y). Manufacturing openings fell 2.2% (-13.5% y/y). Government sector openings increased 6.5% (-11.5% y/y).

Private sector hiring increased 2.4% in February (-4.0% y/y) to 5.438 million after falling 1.4% in January. The private sector hiring rate edged up to 4.0% from 3.9% in January. Hiring was strongest in the service sector where the number of jobs in trade, transportation & utilities rose 12.0% (-10.4% y/y) and leisure & hospitality hiring increased 1.4% (-8.3% y/y). Educational & health services hiring rose 0.2% (2.5% y/y) but financial hiring fell 0.5% both m/m and y/y. Construction sector hiring increased 3.3% (7.5% y/y). Adding to this decline, factory sector hiring fell 13.8% (-24.1% y/y) while government hiring weakened 2.6% (-3.1% y/y) in February, reflecting a 2.6% decline (-1.8% y/y) in state and local government hiring.

Total separations rose 2.0% (-4.7% y/y) to 5.559 million in February after a 0.6% January increase. The separation rate held steady at 3.5%. Private separations increased 2.1% (-4.9% y/y) in February after a 1.3% January rise. Government sector separations increased 1.2% (-0.9% y/y) after falling 9.7% in January.

Private sector quits increased 1.2% (-12.8% y/y) following a 0.4% January rise. Government quits held steady (+1.0% y/y). The overall quits rate was steady at a reduced 2.2% for the fourth consecutive month. Private sector layoffs surged 7.4% (10.4% y/y) in February led by a two-thirds increase (52.2% y/y) in the leisure & hospitality sector. Government layoffs increased 21.7% but were unchanged y/y. The layoff rate rose to 1.1%.

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

  • Prior to joining Haver Analytics in 2000, Mr. Moeller worked as the Economist at Chancellor Capital Management from 1985 to 1999. There, he developed comprehensive economic forecasts and interpreted economic data for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. Also at Chancellor, Mr. Moeller worked as an equity analyst and was responsible for researching and rating companies in the economically sensitive automobile and housing industries for investment in Chancellor’s equity portfolio.   Prior to joining Chancellor, Mr. Moeller was an Economist at Citibank from 1979 to 1984.   He also analyzed pricing behavior in the metals industry for the Council on Wage and Price Stability in Washington, D.C.   In 1999, Mr. Moeller received the award for most accurate forecast from the Forecasters' Club of New York. From 1990 to 1992 he was President of the New York Association for Business Economists.   Mr. Moeller earned an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University, where he graduated in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from George Washington University.

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