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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Backpedals, But Hires Rate Is Steady
by Tom Moeller  July 12, 2016

The job openings rate declined to 3.7% during May from the record high of 3.9%. The private sector job openings rate fell to 3.9% from 4.2%. This rate compared to 2.4% in the public sector. The 4.8% rate in professional & business services compared to 4.7% in leisure & hospitality. The factory sector's 2.8% was accompanied by 2.7% in construction. 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 May held steady m/m at 3.5%, but that was the lowest level since August 2014. The private sector rate eased to 3.8%, also the lowest since 2014. The 6.4% rate in leisure & hospitality compared to 2.9% in education & health services. The hires rate of 5.0% in professional & business services was down from the December high of 5.9%. The public sector hires rate was stable at 1.6%. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.

The actual number of job openings declined 5.9% (+2.1% y/y) after hitting a record 5.845 million in April. A 2.2% y/y rise in private sector openings was led by a 10.5% y/y increase in education & health services. Factory sector hiring rose 7.0% y/y, but professional & business hiring declined 10.0% y/y. Retail trade job openings increased 10.2% y/y and leisure & hospitality rose 6.0% y/y. Government sector job openings gained 1.5% y/y following gains of 7.6% and 39.8% in 2015 and 2014.

The number of hires declined 1.0% (-1.5% y/y) to 5.036 million in May, the fourth decline in five months. Hires grew 5.2% during all of last year and 8.2% in 2014. Private sector hiring declined 1.8% y/y versus peak 8.3% growth in 2014. Employment in professional & business services fell 5.5% y/y, retail employment was off 7.4% y/y and construction sector jobs declined 5.3% y/y. Offsetting these declines, jobs in education & health services improved 7.9% y/y. Factory sector hiring grew 6.0% y/y and leisure & hospitality jobs rose 3.9% y/y. The number of public sector jobs grew 3.6% y/y.

The total job separations rate eased to 3.4%, down from its cycle high of 3.6%. The actual number of separations increased 1.7% y/y. Factory sector separations rose 13.2% y/y while construction sector job separations increased 7.2% y/y. Leisure & hospitality separations increased 7.9 y/y, and education & health services separations rose 6.5% y/y. Working the other way, information services separations declined 16.2% y/y and financial sector separations eased 0.5% y/y. Government sector job separations increased 3.7% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements.

The layoff & discharge rate remained stable at 1.2%. The private sector rate of 1.3% was near the all-time low, and compared to 0.5% in the public sector. Layoffs overall declined 2.2% y/y in the private sector, and were unchanged 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) May Apr Mar May '15 2015 2014 2013
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.7 3.9 3.8 3.7 3.6 3.3 2.7
 Total (000s) 5,500 5,845 5,670 2.1% 9.7% 28.7% 4.6%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.5 3.5 3.7 3.6 43.6 42.2 39.6
 Total (000s) 5,036 5,085 5,290 -1.5% 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) 1,667 1,708 1,768 -2.1% 2.7% 2.4% -5.3%
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