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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Is Unchanged But Hires Improve
by Tom Moeller  January 17, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the November job openings rate held m/m at 2.8%. That nevertheless was up from 2.7% twelve months earlier 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 5.6% y/y to 4.001 million.

The private-sector job openings rate notched up to 3.1%, its highest level of the recovery. The rate in leisure & hospitality businesses increased to 3.8%, the highest since May 2008. The rate in professional & business services slipped to 3.6%, but remained down from the 4.2% high early last year. In the health & social assistance sector, the job openings rate ticked up to 3.3%. The rate in manufacturing slipped to 2.4% and in construction it rose to 2.3%. Still lagging was the job openings rate in the government sector where it held at 1.7%, its lowest level since December.

The hires rate held m/m at 3.3%, still down from its expansion high of 3.4% in September. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector fell to 3.6% from its September high of 3.8%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms it slipped to 5.5%. In construction the hires rate fell to 5.0% and remained below the 6.5% rates common early in 2011. The hiring rate in retail trade edged up to 4.6% while in education & health services it held 2.5%. In the factory sector, the hiring rate increased m/m to 2.2% and remained improved from 1.7% in March. The government sector hires rate ticked up to 1.4%.

The number of hires gained 0.2% m/m in November and were 1.7% above last year. Private sector hires increased a modest 1.3% y/y but jobs in retail trade advanced 16.9% y/y. Hiring in leisure & hospitality grew 13.6% y/y while new employment gained 10.7% y/y in the factory sector. New hires in health services increased 3.1% y/y but hiring in professional & business services fell 6.0% y/y. Government sector hiring rose 3.2% y/y.

The job separations rate held at 3.1% during November but the actual number of separations rose 1.9% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate ticked up to 3.5% but the government sector's rate slipped to 1.3%. The layoff & discharge rate held at 1.1% in November. That's versus a recession peak of 2.0% in early 2009. The private sector layoff rate held at a record low 1.2% while the government's rate slipped to 0.4%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Nov Oct Sep Nov'12 2012 2011 2010
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.5 2.2
 Total (000s) 4,001 3,931 3,883 3,789 3,612 3,384 2,930
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.3 3.3 3.4 3.3 38.9 37.7 37.4
 Total (000s) 4,494 4,484 4,632 4,420 51,946 49,644 48,637
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.1 1.3 1.3 15.4 15.4 16.8
 Total (000s) 1,461 1,504 1,756 1,705 20,670 20,320 21,747
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