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Economy in Brief

JOLTS: Job Openings Fall Sharply, But Hires Still Increase
by Carol Stone, CBE  October 4, 2022

• The number of job openings drop 10.0% in August.

• New hires rise 39,000.

• But separations increase, reversing much of their July decline.

Job openings dropped 1,117,000, exactly 10.0% in August (-5.4% y/y). The July increase was revised somewhat to 130,000 from 199,000 reported before, all according the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The August decline was the steepest since April 2020, in the midst of the COVID recession. The job openings rate (job openings as a percentage of the sum of establishment employment plus openings) was 6.2% in August, down from 6.8% in July and the lowest since 6.0% in April 2021. These series extend back to December 2000.

The drop in job openings was spread across several industries, with the largest in education and health care, 280,000, but 100,000 or more in manufacturing, retail trade, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality.

New hires rose 39,000 in August after dropping 218,000 in July. The August increase was mainly in leisure and hospitality, up 60,000, especially in accommodation and food services, but there were also increases in manufacturing, retail trade and government.

The total number of job separations rose 182,000 in August, following a decline of 215,000 in July. Quits increased 100,000 while layoffs and discharges rose 70,000, with "other separations" increasing 12,000. The quit rate — that is, the number of quits as a percent of total employment — was 2.7%, the same as in July. The high was 3.0% in November and December of 2021.

Layoffs and discharges, that is, involuntary separations, rose to 1,460,000 in August from 1,390,000 in July; that's a 5.0% increase and was the largest number since 1,512,000 in March 2021. They had fallen 0.7% in July. The layoff rate was 1.0% in August, up from 0.9% where it had held since October 2021, except for December 2021, when it was 0.8%.

Private-sector job openings dropped 1.028 million in August to 9.037 million (-10.2% m/m, -7.6% y/y). Total private-sector hires rose 34,000 to 5.880 million (+0.6% m/m, -2.1% y/y) while total private-sector separations rose 157,000 to 5.607 million (2.9% m/m, +0.5% y/y).

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

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