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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Dips; Hiring Rate Improves
by Tom Moeller  December 11, 2017

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate in October eased from the record high of 4.0% to 3.9%. The hiring rate rose, however, to 3.8% and equaled the expansion high. These figures are from the Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which dates back to December 2000.

The private sector job openings rate slipped to 4.2% following four consecutive months at 4.3%. The decline was pronounced in the factory sector as well as the trade, transportation & utility sectors and professional & business services. The rate improved in leisure & hospitality as well as construction. In health care & government the rate held steady.

The total number of job openings declined 2.9% (+7.3% y/y) reflecting a 3.3% drop (+7.0% y/y) in the private sector total. The job openings decline included manufacturing, trade, transportation & utilities and professional & business services. The number of job openings rose sharply in leisure & hospitality and the construction sector.

The private sector hiring rate increased to a cycle high of 4.2%, led by leisure & hospitality, health care & social services as well as industrial sector businesses. Elsewhere, the hiring rate declined moderately or held steady. Declines occurred in the retail, professional & business service and government sectors.

The overall number of hires strengthened, with sharp increases in the health care, leisure & hospitality and manufacturing sectors. Hiring weakened in construction, retail trade and government.

The overall job separations rate fell sharply to the lowest level in six  months. The decline was led by leisure & hospitality, information and construction businesses. Separations picked in financial activities, educational services and trade, transportation & utilities.

The layoff & discharge rate retraced its September rise and returned to the lowest level since May. The decline was pronounced in the construction, leisure & hospitality and professional & business services sectors. Layoffs & discharges surged amongst financial sector firms. The actual number of discharges fell 6.6% (+2.4% y/y) to the lowest level in six months. Construction sector layoffs dropped sharply as did firing in the information and the leisure & hospitality sector.

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

Why Are Men Working Less These Days? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Oct Sep Aug Oct '16 2016 2015 2014
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.9 4.0 4.0 3.7 3.7 3.6 3.3
 Total (000s) 5,996 6,177 6,090 7.3% 3.1% 12.1% 28.1%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.8 3.6 3.7 3.6 43.6 43.5 42.4
 Total (000s) 5,552 5,320 5,420 6.8% 1.2% 5.8% 8.2%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.1 13.7 14.8 14.7
 Total (000s) 1,631 1,746 1,781 2.4% -4.8% 2.8% 2.3%
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