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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Holds Steady; Hires Rate Improves
by Tom Moeller  June 05, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate during April was unchanged at 4.3%, but was higher than the 4.0% rate twelve months earlier. (The job openings rate is the job openings level as a percent of total employment plus the job openings level.) The hiring rate rose to 3.8% and equaled the highest level since October 2007.

The private-sector job openings rate held steady at the expansion high of 4.6%, and March was revised up from 4.5%. The rate rose in professional & business services (5.7%), leisure & hospitality (5.5%) and education & health services (5.1%). The job openings rate in trade, transportation and utilities held steady at 4.3%, and in the manufacturing sector the job openings rate improved to 3.4%. In construction, the rate eased to 3.1%. The job openings rate in the government sector slipped to 2.5%.

The level of job openings increased 1.0% (9.7% y/y) after surging 9.1% in March. Private-sector openings improved 1.5% (9.9% y/y) to 6.117 million. Job opening increased 21.0% y/y in trade, transportation & utilities. Professional & business services job openings gained 22.9% y/y while leisure & hospitality openings rose 11.0% y/y. Openings in education & health services increased 9.1% y/y and factory sector openings increased 20.9% y/y. To the downside, openings in construction eased 0.4% y/y. Openings in government improved 6.8% y/y.

The private-sector hiring rate held steady at 4.1%, where it's been for five of the last six months. The rate in leisure & hospitality (6.4%), professional and business services (5.7%) and trade, transportation & utilities (4.0%) remained firm. In construction, the rate rose to 4.9% and in education & health services, it improved to 2.9%. In the factory sector, the rate eased to 2.7%. The government sector hiring rate held steady at 1.5%, about where it's been since late 2016.

Total hiring increased 6.8% y/y. Hiring in the private sector also increased 6.8% y/y led by a 14.4% y/y gain in professional & business services jobs. Factory sector hiring rose 11.3% y/y, but construction sector employment declined 7.2% y/y. Leisure & hospitality hiring improved 4.2% y/y, while the number of education & health services workers improved 2.4% y/y. Hiring in the public sector increased 6.6% y/y.

The overall job separations rate was stable m/m to 3.6%, about where it's been since 2015. It held at 4.0% in the private sector and ticked up to 1.6% in government. The level of overall separations rose 5.8% y/y.

The level of layoffs increased 1.4% y/y, leaving the 1.2% layoff rate up from March's record low of 1.0%. In the private sector, the layoff rate rose to 1.3% and gained to 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) Apr Mar Feb Apr'17 Apr '16 Apr'15
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 4.3 4.3 3.9 4.0 3.9 3.8
 Total (000s) 6,698 6,633 6,078 6,108 5,893 5,625
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  3.8 3.7 3.7 3.6 3.6 3.6
 Total (000s) 5,578 5,486 5,511 5,225 5,243 5,120
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.2 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.3
 Total (000s) 1,710 1,547 1,620 1,687 1,736 1,793
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