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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Improves While Layoffs Decline
by Tom Moeller  December 11, 2012

Labor market improvement continues according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The October job openings rate rose to 2.7% from an unrevised 2.6%. That equaled the highest rate for the expansion and was 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 actual number of job openings rose 3.6% to 3,675 (7.8% y/y), nearly the highest level for the economic expansion..

The private-sector job openings rate rose to 2.9%, up versus the recession low of 1.7%. The job openings rate in professional & business services increased to 3.7% but remained below its December high of 4.3%. In leisure & hospitality, the rate recovered to 3.0% while the rate in education & health services fell to 3.1%. In manufacturing the rate improved from its recent low to 2.3%. The job openings rate in government was stable at a relatively low 1.7%.

Recovering a bit was the hires rate to 3.2%. However, it still was nearly the lowest level since July of last year but up from the recession low of 2.8%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector rose slightly m/m to 3.6% while  the government's rate held at a low 1.3%. In leisure & hospitality, the hiring rate continued quite firm at 5.5% and the factory sector hires rate improved slightly to 2.1%. In education & health services, the rate held at 2.4%. Overall hires in the private sector gained 3.4% (1.9% y/y) but have moved sideways this year. Professional & business services hires recovered 4.7% (-0.6% y/y) while leisure & hospitality hires increased 6.5% (4.9% y/y).

The job separations rate of 3.1% remained nearly the lowest in fourteen months. The actual number of separations was roughly unchanged y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate fell m/m and equaled its five year low of 1.2%. The private sector layoff rate was 1.4% while in government it was a lower 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) Oct Sep Aug Oct'11 2011 2010 2009
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.7 2.6 2.7 2.5 2.6 2.2 1.8
 Total (000s) 3,675 3,547 3,661 3,408 3,540 2,902 2,432
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.2 3.1 3.3 3.2 38.0 37.4 35.5
 Total(000s) 4,339 4,204 4,220 4,276 50,006 48,647 46,386
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.3 15.6 16.7 20.5
 Total (000s) 1,660 1,728 1,848 1,740 20,678 21,737 26,731
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