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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: U.S. Job Openings Rate Pulls Back
by Tom Moeller  January 11, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the November job openings rate slipped to 2.4% from an unrevised 2.5% during October. These levels remained improved versus the recession low of 1.8%. 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. Job availability remained near its highest level since August 2008 following declines during four of the previous five months. Job availability has risen nearly one-third since December after last year's 17.8% decline, which followed a 29.7% drop during 2008.

The private-sector job openings rate also slipped m/m to 2.6%, still its highest since August 2008. The level of job openings rose 36.4% this year (October's figure was revised down), reflecting a 32.7% gain in factory openings as well as a 73.5% increase in professional & business services. Job openings in government fell 14.7% since December '09 and the rate remained a low 1.5%.

The hires rate remained low at 3.2%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The 3.6% rate in the private sector easily surpassed the government's at 1.3%, The actual number of hires rose 5.3% this year led by a 5.4% increase in the private sector but a lesser 3.9% rise in government. Hires in professional & business were the strongest with a 16.1% rise followed by a 16.0% gain in manufacturing.

The job separations rate increased to 3.2%, still near its lowest since April. The actual number of separations ticked 0.8% higher after four months of decline and they're off 1.8% since Dec. '09. Job separations in the private sector fell 1.8% but separations in the government sector fell 2.6%. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone ticked up to 1.4%, as the actual number of layoffs fell 12.6% since Dec. '09 following a 12.6% increase during 2009. The private sector layoff rate held at its low of 1.5% and it ticked up to 0.6% in the government sector.

The JOLTS survey dates only to December 2000 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor  Turnover Survey) Nov Oct Sept Nov '09 2009 2008 2007
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.4 2.5 2.3 1.9 1.9 2.2 3.1
 Total (000s) 3,248 3,328 3,011 2,456 2,531 3,078 4,378
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.2 3.3 3.2 3.2 37.3 41.1 45.9
 Total (000s) 4,210 4,249 4,208 4,160 48,649 56,082 63,234
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.5 20.7 17.7 16.5
 Total (000s) 1,791 1,755 1,808 1,973 27,683 24,589 22,606
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