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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Increases to Highest Level Since 2007
by Tom Moeller  June 10, 2014

Further indication of labor market improvement came today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the job openings rate increased to 3.1% during April from a revised 2.9% in March. The latest  level was the highest since September 2007. 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 16.5% y/y to 4.455 million.

The private-sector job openings rate surged to 3.4%, its highest level since September 2007 and up from the recession low of 1.7%. The rate in leisure & hospitality businesses jumped to a new high of 4.6%. The rate in professional & business services surged to 4.2%, near the recovery high of 4.3%. In the health care & social assistance sector, the job openings rate held at 3.5%. The rate in construction slipped to 1.5%, down from the 2.7% in November. In manufacturing it nudged up to 2.2%. Still lagging was the job openings rate in the government sector where it held m/m at a low 1.8%.

The hires rate held at the recovery high of 3.4%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The private sector hires rate remained at 3.8%. Amongst leisure & hospitality firms, it recovered to 5.8%. The hires rate in retail trade gained to 5.0% and in construction it improved to 4.6%, though it remained below the 6.9% rates in early-2011. In education & health services, the rate slipped to 2.7%. In the factory sector, the hires rate edged down to 2.0% and remained below the 2.5% high in late 2010. The government sector hires rate slipped to a low 1.3%.

The number of hires was stable for the second month, but they were up 5.6% y/y. Private sector hires gained 6.5% y/y as new retail trade jobs surged by more-than one-quarter y/y and hiring in professional & business services increased 8.0% y/y. Factory sector employment gained 3.8% y/y. Education & health services jobs declined 1.1% y/y but new hires in construction were off by 2.1% y/y. Government sector hiring declined 6.2% y/y.

The job separations rate held at 3.3% but the actual number of separations increased 5.1% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The private sector separations rate held at 3.6% for the fifth straight month and the government sector's rate ticked slipped to 1.3%. The layoff & discharge rate held at a low of 1.2% for the fifth straight month. The private sector layoff rate held m/m at 1.3% and the government's rate slipped to 0.4%.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Apr Mar Feb Apr'13 2013 2012 2011
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.7 2.8 2.6 2.5
 Total (000s) 4,455 4,166 4,125 3,824 3,914 3,646 3,538
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.4 3.4 3.4 3.3 39.6 38.8 38.1
 Total (000s) 4,708 4,706 4,699 4,457 54,139 52,391 50,264
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.3 14.6 15.5 15.7
 Total (000s) 1,651 1,574 1,596 1,700 20,006 20,979 20,735
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