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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate & Level Surge to Records During April
by Tom Moeller  June 8, 2021

• Job openings rate strengthens across industries.

• Hiring rate holds steady.

• Layoffs decline while quits increase.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on the last business day of April, the level of job openings rose to a record 9.286 million and have doubled y/y. The total job openings rate also reached a record 6.0%, which was increased from an unrevised 5.4% in March. The openings rate is calculated as job openings as a percent of total employment plus jobs that have not yet been filled. The hiring rate held steady m/m at 4.2% which was up from 3.8% in December & January. The overall layoff & discharge rate eased to a record low of 1.0% from an upwardly-revised 1.1% in March. The quits rate surged to a record high of 2.7% as the number of quits have risen 17.9% during the last six months. The JOLTS figures date back to December 2000.

The private-sector job openings rate jumped to a record 6.4% from 5.7% in March. The leisure & hospitality rate surged to a record 10.1% from 8.0% while the professional & business services rate strengthened to 6.8%. The factory sector job openings rate surged to a record 6.5% but the education & health services rate held at 5.8%. The government sector job openings rate also jumped to a record 4.1% from 3.8% in March. The private sector job openings level surged 12.5% and has more-than doubled y/y to 8.374 million.

Employers are having trouble finding workers as hiring is lagging job openings. In April, the private sector hiring rate rose to 4.7% and equaled the level six months earlier. It was well below the record 7.2% in May of last year. The leisure & hospitality hiring rate jumped 10.1%, equaling the openings rate. The professional & business service sector hiring rate fell to 5.1% the lowest level since May of last year. The construction sector's hiring rate weakened to 4.5% from 5.9% in March, and the factory sector hiring rate fell to 3.2% from 3.5%. The government sector hiring rate edged lower to 1.6%. It remained below the 2.6% high last August. The level of private sector hiring rose 1.5% (54.1% y/y) to 5.728 million.

Data on job separations reflect a combination of layoffs and quits. The separations rate of 4.0% in April compared to the record 10.8% in March of last year. The level of separations declined by one-half y/y. Private sector separations fell 51.8% y/y and the private separations rate rose to 4.4%, a five month high. The government's separation rate held steady at 1.6% for the third straight month.

The layoff & discharge rate in the private sector slipped to a record low of 1.1%. The professional & business services layoff & discharge rate fell to 1.5% and was down from an all-time high of 6.3% in April of last year. The 2.1% rate in construction compared to 0.8% in manufacturing. The 1.0% rate in the information sector remained below the record 6.8% in March of last year. It compared to 0.4% in government, where it's been for five months.

As the labor market firms, workers look for new job opportunities. The record quits rate of. 3.1% in the private sector remained up from 1.8% in April and May last year. It compared to 0.9% in government. In the leisure & hospitality sector, the quits rate surged to a near-record 5.3%. The quits rate in professional & business services surged to 3.4%, equaling the record high. In manufacturing, the job quits rate also surged to a record 2.3% and remained up from 1.0% in April of last year. In finance, the quits rate edged higher m/m to 1.5%. The level of job quits in the private sector nearly doubled y/y. In government, the level of quits rose 13.9% y/y.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Apr Mar Feb Apr'20 Apr'19 Apr'18
 Rate (%) 6.0 5.4 5.0 3.4 4.6 4.4
 Total (000s) 9,286 8,288 7,526 4,630 7,257 6,910
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  4.2 4.2 4.0 3.0 4.0 3.8
 Total (000s) 6,075 6,006 5,794 3,942 6,051 5,610
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.0 1.1 1.2 7.2 1.3 1.2
 Total (000s) 1,444 1,525 1,723 9,307 1,954 1,741
Quits, Total
 Rate (%) 2.7 2.5 2.4 1.6 2.3 2.3
 Total (000s) 3,952 3,568 3,383 2,107 3,494 3,366
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