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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: Job Openings & Hire Rates Still in Decline
by Tom Moeller April 9, 2008

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in the Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that for February, the job openings rate was unchanged from the prior month at 2.7%. The 2008 figures continued down from 2007 and from 2006. The job openings rate is the number of job openings on the last business day of the month as a percent of total employment plus job openings.

The actual number of total job openings fell 1.8% m/m to 3.820 million and the number of job openings was down 8.3% from February 2007. Openings in the construction industry were down 40.9% from a year ago and job opening in manufacturing were off 27.9%. Professional & business services job openings were up 10.8% as were job openings in the education & health sectors by 9.4%

By region, openings in the Northeast were down 14.4% y/y and they were down 7.9% in the South. Openings were down 5.7% in the Midwest and by 4.3% in the West.

The hires rate was stable m/m at 3.4% but remained below the levels of the last several years. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.

The actual number of hires also was stable m/m at 4.638 million but declined by 3.4% y/y. Hires declined by 2.4% during all of 2007.

The job separations rate ticked up to 3.3% during February but it was stable versus a year ago. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The level of job separations fell 0.9% y/y.

The JOLTS survey dates only to December 2000 but has since followed the movement in nonfarm payrolls, though the actual correlation between the two series is low.

A description of the Jolts survey and the latest release from the U.S. Department of Labor is available here.

The minutes to the latest meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee can be found here

Today's speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke titled The Importance of Financial Education and the National Jump Start Coalition Survey are available here.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor  Turnover Survey) February January February '07 2007 2006 2005
Job Openings, Total      
  Rate (%) 2.7 2.7 2.9 2.8 3.0 2.8
  Total (000s) 3,820 3,889 4,168 3,974 4,272 3,863
Hires, Total  
  Rate (%) 3.4 3.4 3.5 41.9 43.4 43.1
  Total (000s) 4,638 4,639 4,800 57,771 59,153 57,501
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