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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS Rate Is Stable But Layoffs Fall
by Tom Moeller  September 7, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the July job openings rate held steady m/m at 2.4%. The latest reading remained improved versus the recession low of 1.6%. 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 private-sector job openings rate improved m/m to 2.6% and has been moving higher since the recovery began. Professional & business services job openings rebounded sharply m/m to 3.5%. That equaled last year's average and was up from the low of 2.1%. Openings in education & health services recently have been stable as they have been in leisure hospitality. In manufacturing, openings jumped m/m and remained more-than-double the mid-2009 low. The job openings rate in government remained depressed at 1.5%.

The hires rate slipped to 3.0%, the lowest level since January. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector slipped to 3.4% versus 3.5% during Q2. The government's depressed 1.2% rate was where it's been since November. The private sector's rate was 3.4%. Overall, hires in the private sector rose a lessened 1.9% y/y. Hires in professional & business services were strongest with 10.2% y/y rise but education & health fell 7.2% y/y. 

The job separations rate has been stable recently at 3.0% but the actual number of separations fell 2.8% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate alone fell to 1.3%, just above the all-time low. The private sector layoff rate held at an elevated 1.5% but in the public sector it was 0.5%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey) Jul Jun May Jul-10 2010 2009 2008
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.4 2.4 2.3 2.1 2.2 1.8 2.1
 Total (000s) 3,228 3,169 3,034 2,848 2,921 2,376 2,938
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.0 36.3 34.7 39.3
 Total (000s) 3,984 4,068 4,128 3,937 47,190 45,364 53,903
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.3 1.4 1.4 1.5 16.4 20.0 17.6
 Total (000s) 1,696 1,773 1,837 1,964 21,225 26,328 23,706
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