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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Increases Again
by Tom Moeller  March 17, 2016

The job openings rate improved to 3.7% during January from 3.6% in December. Revisions sharply lowered figures back to 2013, but benchmark revisions extend back to 2000. The private sector job openings rate of 4.0% compared to 2.1% in the public sector. The job openings rate is the number of job openings on the last business day of the month as a percent of total employment plus job openings. Hiring was less strong. The hires rate in January totaled 3.5%, down from the December high of 3.8%. The private sector rate declined sharply m/m to 3.9%, and compared to 1.5% in the public sector. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these figures in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

The actual number of job openings rose 4.9% in January to 5.541 million, up 11.4% y/y. A 13.9% y/y rise in private sector openings was led by a 35.0% surge in construction. That was followed by a 26.6% y/y increase in health care & social assistance. Retail trade openings gained 24.9% y/y and openings in professional & business services increased 22.4% y/y. Factory sector openings improved 9.8% y/y, but leisure & hospitality openings fell 1.6% y/y. In the government sector, job openings declined 9.7% y/y.

The number of hires decreased 6.9% m/m to 5.029 million in January, and they were down 0.5% y/y. Private sector hiring eased 0.3% y/y, reflecting a 6.8% increase in professional & business services and an 8.6% y/y rise in manufacturing. Leisure & hospitality hiring gained 5.7%, but construction sector jobs declined 20.1% y/y. Health care & social assistance jobs fell 2.5% y/y. Government sector hiring declined 2.4% y/y.

The total job separations rate plunged to 3.4% as it reversed December's run-up to 3.6%. The actual number of separations increased 0.4% y/y. Factory sector separations increased 3.6% y/y while education & health care separations gained 2.2% y/y. Professional & business services separations increased 4.5% y/y and leisure & hospitality separations rose 2.6% y/y. Retail trade separations declined 5.1% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements.

The layoff & discharge rate held near the record low at 1.2%. The private sector rate of 1.3% also was near the all-time low and compared to 0.5% in the public sector. Layoffs overall declined 5.2% y/y in the private sector, and 7.3% y/y in the public sector.

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

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Jan Dec Nov Jan '14 2015 2014 2013
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.7 3.6 3.5 3.4 3.6 3.3 2.7
 Total (000s) 5,541 5,281 5,198 11.4% 9.7 28.7% 4.6%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.5 3.8 3.7 3.6 43.6 42.2 39.6
 Total (000s) 5,029 5,401 5,253 -0.5% 5.2% 8.2% 3.5%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 14.9 14.7 14.7
 Total (000s) 1,663 1,672 1,718 -5.3% 2.7% 2.4% -5.3%
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