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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings, Hires and Layoffs Ease
by Tom Moeller  April 13, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate declined to 3.9% in February. January's 4.0% rate was revised down from the record 4.1% reported last month. (The job openings rate is the job openings level as a percent of total employment plus the job openings level.) The hiring rate also slipped to 3.7% from its expansion high of 3.8%. The layoff rate eased and returned to the record low of 1.1%.

The private sector job openings rate fell m/m to 4.2%, but remained up from December's 3.9% low. The rate fell sharply in construction (2.7%) and leisure hospitality (4.6%), but was little-changed elsewhere; manufacturing (3.3%), trade, transportation & utilities (4.0%), professional & business services (4.5%) and education & health (4.8%). The job openings rate in the government sector strengthened to 2.5%, its highest point since July 2016.

The level of job openings eased moderately m/m, but remained up 7.7% y/y. Private sector openings declined 3.5% (+7.0% y/y) to 5.5 million. Openings in trade and transportation & utilities rose 23.6% y/y and factory sector openings increased 21.0% y/y. Elsewhere, job openings declined by 1.9% y/y in leisure & hospitality and by 4.5% in education & health services. Openings in government increased 15.0% y/y.

The private sector hiring rate eased to 4.1% from 4.2% in January. Construction (5.0%), manufacturing (3.0%), trade, transportation & utilities (3.9%) and professional, leisure & hospitality (6.3%) & business services (5.6%) each remained firm. The hires rate in business & professional services fell to 5.6%. The government sector hiring rate held steady at 1.5%.

Hiring in the private sector increased 5.0% y/y led by a 27.9% y/y jump in factory sector hiring. Professional & business services hiring gained 12.4% y/y while education & health services hiring rose 3.2% y/y. Hiring in leisure & hospitality increased 3.3% y/y, but it fell 1.4% y/y in the construction sector.

The overall job separations rate declined to 3.5%, its lowest level since April 2017. It eased to 3.9% in the private sector and was steady at 1.5% in government. The level of overall separations rose 3.2 y/y.

The level of layoffs eased 0.6% y/y leaving the layoff rate at 1.1%. It was 1.2% in the private sector and 0.5% in the public sector.

The Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) survey dates to December 2000 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Feb Jan Dec Feb'17 Feb '16 Feb'15
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 3.9 4.0 3.7 3.7 3.8 3.5
 Total (000s) 6,052 6,228 5,667 5,618 5,600 5,160
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  3.7 3.8 3.7 3.6 3.8 3.6
 Total (000s) 5,507 5,574 5,524 5,264 5,473 5,028
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.3x 1.2
 Total (000s) 1,647 1,784 1,655 1,657 1,859 1,685
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