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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings and Hires Rates Edge Higher
by Tom Moeller  August 10, 2016

The total job openings rate nudged higher to 3.8% during June following a May decline to 3.7%. The record high of 3.9% had been reached in April. The private sector job openings rate also improved to 4.0% from 3.9%, but remained below the record high. These rates compared to 2.3% in the public sector which was higher than the 1.6% averaged in 2011. The 5.0% rate in professional & business services compared to 4.7% in leisure & hospitality. In education & health services the rate also averaged 4.7%. The factory sector's 3.0% rate was accompanied by 3.0% 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 total hires rate in June nudged higher m/m to 3.6%, but that was well below December's 3.8%. The private sector rate held steady at 3.9%, but was down from 4.2% in February. The 6.6% rate in leisure & hospitality compared to 2.8% in education & health services. The hires rate of 4.9% in professional & business services was down from the December high of 5.9%. A 2.3% rate in manufacturing compared to 4.2% in construction The public sector hires rate has been little changed at 1.6% since early 2015. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment.

The actual number of job openings rose 2.0% (8.8% y/y) following a 5.7% decline. An 8.2% y/y rise in private sector openings was led by a one-third y/y increase in manufacturing. That was followed by an 11.4% y/y increase in education & health services, but professional & business hiring declined 7.8% y/y. Retail trade job openings increased 10.3% y/y and leisure & hospitality rose 11.4% y/y. Government sector job openings strengthened 15.1% y/y following gains of 7.6% and 39.8% in 2015 and 2014.

The number of hires increased 1.7% (-0.3% y/y) to 5.131 million in June. That increase followed four consecutive months of decline. Hires grew 5.2% during all of last year and 8.2% in 2014. Private sector hiring declined 1.0% y/y versus peak 8.3% growth in 2014. Employment in professional & business services fell 4.9% y/y; retail employment was off 8.7% y/y and construction sector jobs declined 12.4% y/y. Offsetting these declines, jobs in leisure & hospitality increased 9.7% y/y; education & health services hiring improved 7.9% y/y and factory sector employment grew 5.6% 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% in February. The actual number of separations eased 0.6% y/y. Leisure & hospitality separations increased 6.1% y/y, and education & health services separations rose 8.3% y/y. Factory sector separations nudged 0.7% higher y/y. Working the other way, construction sector job separations fell 13.1% y/y, information services separations declined 12.0% y/y and financial sector separations eased 4.3% y/y. Government sector job separations were little changed y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements.

The layoff & discharge rate slipped to 1.1% from 1.2% and matched the record low. The private sector rate of 1.3% has been stable for three months near the all-time low of 1.2%. That compared to a lessened 0.4% in the public sector. Layoffs overall declined 7.2% y/y in the private sector, but were off 17.8% 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) Jun May Apr Jun '15 2015 2014 2013
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.8 3.7 3.9 3.5 3.6 3.3 2.7
 Total (000s) 5,624 5,514 5,845 8.8% 9.7% 28.7% 4.6%
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.6 43.6 42.2 39.6
 Total (000s) 5,131 5,047 5,085 -0.3% 5.2% 8.2% 3.5%
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.3 14.9 14.7 14.7
 Total (000s) 1,643 1,701 1,708 -7.9% 2.7% 2.4% -5.3%
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