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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Backs Away From Record
by Tom Moeller  November 6, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate fell to 4.5% in September from the record of 4.7% in August, revised from 4.6%. The job openings rate is the job openings level as a percent of total employment plus the job openings level. The hiring rate slipped to 3.8% from 4.0%, revised from 3.9%, but remained up from the recession low of 2.8% in 2009. The layoff & discharge rate slipped to 1.1%, nearly the record low, and the quits rate held at 2.4% for the third month, just below the record high. The JOLTS data begin in 2000.

The private-sector job openings rate eased to 4.8% from the record 4.9%. Leisure & hospitality strengthened to a series high of 6.0%, while professional & business services eased to 5.6% from the three-year high of 6.1%. In education & health services, the share increased to a near record 5.2%, while in construction, it slipped to a still strong 3.7%. The rate in manufacturing slipped to a firm 3.7% and in trade, transportation & utilities, it held steady a 4.4%. The job openings rate in government declined sharply to 2.6%, but remained up sharply versus the 2009 low of 1.2%.

The level of job openings declined 3.9% (+12.5% y/y) to 7.009 million and reversed the August rise to a record 7.293 million. Private-sector openings slipped m/m but remained up 11.9% y/y. Construction sector job availability surged by one-half y/y. Openings in leisure & hospitality strengthened by one-third y/y and they rose 15.7% y/y in education & health services. Trade, transportation & utilities job openings increased 11.7% y/y. Factory sector openings rose 8.8% y/y while openings in professional business services gained a reduced 2.8% y/y. Government sector job openings increased a lessened 19.7% y/y.

The private-sector hiring rate fell to 4.2% in September from August's eleven-year high of 4.4%. The rate in leisure & hospitality improved to 6.6%, but in professional & business services, it slipped to 5.7%. The construction sector's hiring rate held firm at 5.1%. The hiring rate in trade, transportation & utilities declined to 4.2% after surging to a 12-year high of 4.4% in August. In education & health services, the rate gained to 3.1%, but in manufacturing it fell sharply to 2.6%, a 12-month low. The hiring rate in government held steady at 1.6%.

Total hiring declined 2.7% (+6.9% y/y) to 5.744 million and reversed the August gain. Hiring in the private sector increased 7.2% y/y with educational & health services surging 14.3% y/y. Trade, transportation & utilities hiring strengthened 11.4% and leisure & hospitality improved 8.1% y/y. Professional & business employment increased 2.9% y/y, but factory-sector hiring declined 1.2% y/y. Construction sector jobs also fell 3.4% y/y.

The overall job separations rate eased to 3.8% from an upwardly revised 3.9% in August, but remained near its twelve-year high. The private sector separations rate fell to 4.2% from its cycle high of 4.3%. The separations rate in government slipped to 1.5%.

The level of overall separations strengthened 6.0% y/y to 5.667 million. In the private sector, they were up 6.7% y/y led by a 17.1 y/y surge in trade, transportation & utilities and a 13.8% y/y rise in educational & health services. In the financial sector, they jumped 10.8%. Separations increased 6.1% y/y in leisure & hospitality, while in professional & business services, they edged up 1.5% y/y. Meanwhile, construction separations fell 9.4% y/y and education & health services inched down 0.3% y/y. Separations in the factory sector eased 0.9% y/y, while in the information sector they declined 17.2% y/y. Separations in the government sector gained 8.0% y/y.

The level of quits edged down 1.3% m/m (+10.6% y/y) to 3.601 million in September while the quits rate held steady at July's record of 2.4%. The private-sector quit rate also was unchanged at 2.7%. The rate fell sharply in the financial sector to 1.4% and in professional & business services the rate held steady at 3.3%. The government sector quit rate eased to 0.7%.

The level of layoffs declined 3.6% to 1.700 million, lowering the layoff rate to 1.1%, nearly the record low. In the private sector, the layoff rate held steady at 1.3%. The professional & business services rate fell to 1.9%, while in the factory sector, it eased to 0.7%. The government sector layoff rate slipped to 0.5%.

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) Sep Aug Jul Sep'17 Sep'16 Sep'15
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 4.5 4.7 4.5 4.1 3.8 3.6
 Total (000s) 7,009 7,293 7,077 6,229 5,650 5,367
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  3.8 4.0 3.8 3.7 3.6 3.6
 Total (000s) 5,744 5,906 5,713 5,375 5,255 5,147
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.1 1.3
 Total (000s) 1,700 1,790 1,622 1,764 1,527 1,879
Quits, Total
 Rate (%) 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.2 2.1 2.0
 Total (000s) 3,601 3,648 3,608 3,173 3,161 2,926
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