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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Hits A Record Level
by Tom Moeller  September 11, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate during July held steady m/m at a record 4.4%. It remained higher than the 4.1% rate twelve months earlier. (The job openings rate is the job openings level as a percent of total employment plus the job openings level.) The hiring rate held at 3.8%, which was slightly below the eleven-year high of 3.9% in May. The JOLTS data begin in 2000.

The private-sector job openings rate held at a record 4.7% in July. The rate in leisure & hospitality increased to 5.8% and in professional & business services, it rose to 5.4%. In education & health services, the rate eased to 5.0% while in trade, transportation & utilities it slipped to 4.5%. The rate in manufacturing rose to 3.8% but held steady in construction at 3.6%. In government, the job openings rate eased to 2.7%, but remained up from the 1.2% low in 2009.

The level of job openings increased 1.7% (11.9% y/y) following a 2.4% June gain. Private-sector openings rose 2.2% (11.3% y/y) to 6.316 million. Job openings in the factory sector rose 29.4% y/y and increased 7.1% y/y in construction. In trade, transportation & utilities, openings rose 14.0% y/y and in leisure & hospitality, openings gained 21.1% y/y. Openings in education & health services increased 7.9% y/y and in professional & business services, they rose 11.7% y/y. Government sector job openings increased 17.8% y/y.

The private-sector hiring rate in July held m/m at 4.2%, down from its eleven-year high of 4.3% reached in May. The rate rose in leisure & hospitality to 6.5%. In professional & business services, it held steady at 5.5% and in construction, it rose to 5.2%. In education & health services, the rate eased to 2.9%. The hiring rate in trade, transportation & utilities rose to 4.1% and in manufacturing, to 3.1%. The hiring rate in government slipped to 1.5%.

Total hiring rose a lessened 3.3% y/y in July. Hiring in the private sector increased 3.4% y/y as factory sector hiring strengthened 15.9% y/y and construction sector employment increased 6.2% y/y. Showing lesser improvement was educational & health services jobs (3.6% y/y) and leisure & hospitality hiring which posted a 3.3% y/y rise. Professional & business employment fell 3.8% y/y.

The overall job separations rate remained at 3.7% in July. It was steady at 4.1% in the private sector and equaled the expansion high. The level of overall separations increased a lessened 2.4% y/y. They rose 16.5% y/y in financial activities, just 4.2% y/y in manufacturing and 3.9% in leisure & hospitality. Job separations fell 6.5% y/y in professional & business services and 5.7% y/y in construction.

The level of layoffs declined 11.9% y/y, keeping the 1.1% layoff rate down from a 2015 high of 1.4%. In the private sector, the layoff rate was steady at 1.2%, but it was only 0.9% in manufacturing and 0.7% in financial activities. The government sector layoff rate remained low at 0.4%.

The Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) survey dates to December 2000 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Jul Jun May Jul'17 Jul'16 Jul'15
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 4.4 4.4 4.3 4.1 3.8 3.5
 Total (000s) 6,939 6,822 6,659 6,202 5,982 5,863
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  3.8 3.8 3.9 3.7 3.7 3.6
 Total (000s) 5,679 5,677 5,747 5,498 5,324 5,111
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.1 1.2
 Total (000s) 1,602 1,652 1,618 1,816 1,600 1,662
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