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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: Job Openings Stable in June, Hires Up
by Tom Moeller August 12, 2008

For June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in the Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported that the number of job openings ticked down 0.1% (-15.0% y/y) from May. The dip followed a 0.5% gain during May. Since their peak in January of 2007, the number of job openings have fallen 14%.

The job openings rate was unchanged during June at 2.6%. The latest figures are down from near 3% one year ago. 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 job openings in the manufacturing sector rose 0.4% (-25.6% y/y) in June from an upwardly revised May figure. Professional & business services job openings recovered declines during the prior two months with a 9.9% (-0.6% y/y) increase. Job openings in the education & health sectors rose by 6.3% (-2.8% y/y) after three consecutive months of decline but job openings in retail trade reversed the May increase with a 10.5% (-21.5% y/y) drop.

By region, openings in the West were off by one quarter from the year ago level. In the South they fell 11.2% y/y and in the Midwest openings fell a like 11.9%. In the Northeast job openings also fell 8.5% y/y

The hires rate ticked up to 3.1% but remained near the low for this cycle.The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.The latest figure was near the lowest since 2003. The actual number of hires rose 5.1% (-10.5% y/y). Hires in the trade & transportation sectors rose sharply m/m but remained down 4.6% from one year earlier.

The job separations rate held stable m/m at 3.1%, down from 3.7% at the peak. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The level of job separations fell 3.5% 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.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor  Turnover Survey) June May June '07 2007 2006 2005
Job Openings, Total              
  Rate (%) 2.6 2.6 3.0 2.8 3.0 2.8
  Total (000s) 3,627 3,631 4,267 3,974 4,272 3,863
Hires, Total            
  Rate (%) 3.1 3.0 3.5 41.9 43.4 43.1
  Total (000s) 4,333 4,123 4,843 57,771 59,153 57,501
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