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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Reaches Record High, But Hires Ease Again
by Tom Moeller  June 8, 2016

The job openings rate increased to 3.9% during April after remaining at 3.8% for three months. The latest level equaled the record high. The private sector job openings rate increased to a record 4.2%. This rate compared to 2.2% in the public sector. The 4.7% job opening rate in leisure & hospitality compared to 3.3% in the factory 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. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these figures in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

The hires rate in April dropped sharply to 3.5%, the lowest level since August 2014. The private sector rate declined m/m to 3.9%, a three month low. The 6.2% rate in leisure & hospitality compared to 2.7% in education & health services. The hires rate of 5.1% in the construction sector compared to 1.6% in the public sector. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.

The actual number of job openings increased 2.1% to a record 5.788 million (3.7% y/y). A 4.1% y/y rise in private sector openings was led by a 23.1% y/y surge in manufacturing and a 17.6% y/y increase in construction. These were followed by a 16.4% y/y gain in retail trade and a 6.4% y/y improvement in education & health services. Job openings in leisure & hospitality rose 5.1% y/y, but professional & business services openings fell 22.0% y/y. Government sector job openings were roughly unchanged y/y following gains of 7.6% and 39.8% in 2015 and 2014.

The number of hires declined 3.7% m/m to 5.092 million in April, the third decline in four months, and they were roughly steady y/y. Hires grew 5.2% during all of last year and 8.2% in 2014. Private sector hiring was little changed y/y versus peak 8.3% growth in 2014. Factory sector hiring grew 7.5% y/y and leisure & hospitality jobs rose 3.0% y/y. Jobs in educational & health services also increased 3.0% y/y. Construction jobs improved 1.3% y/y, but jobs in professional & business services declined 2.6% y/y to the lowest level since August. Retail trade hiring fell 1.0% y/y, but public sector jobs improved 2.1% y/y.

The total job separations rate was steady at 3.5%, down from its cycle high of 3.6%. The actual number of separations increased 2.1% y/y. Information services separations jumped 20.6% y/y while construction sector job separations increased 12.7% y/y. Factory sector separations rose 7.7% y/y. Education & health services separations rose 7.2% y/y. Leisure & hospitality separations were roughly unchanged y/y, but financial sector separations declined 11.1% y/y. Government sector job separations increased 8.8% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements.

The layoff & discharge rate fell to the record low of 1.1%. The private sector rate of 1.2% was also at the all-time low and compared to 0.6% in the public sector. Layoffs overall declined 8.5% y/y in the private sector, but were up 14.3% 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) Apr Mar Feb Apr '15 2015 2014 2013
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.9 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.6 3.3 2.7
 Total (000s) 5,788 5,670 5,608 3.7% 9.7% 28.7% 4.6%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.5 3.7 3.8 3.6 43.6 42.2 39.6
 Total (000s) 5,092 5,290 5,510 0.4% 5.2% 8.2% 3.5%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.3 14.9 14.7 14.7
 Total (000s) 1,646 1,768 1,808 -8.5% 2.7% 2.4% -5.3%
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