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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings Rate Slips; Hires Rate Increases
by Tom Moeller  July 10, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total job openings rate during May fell to 4.3% from 4.4% in April, revised from 4.3%. It remained higher than the 3.7% 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 surged to 3.9% from 3.8% and was the highest level since March 2007.

The private-sector job openings rate eased to 4.6% from the expansion high of 4.7%. The rate declined in professional & business services (5.4%), leisure & hospitality (5.3%) and education & health services (4.9%). The job openings rate in trade, transportation and utilities held steady at 4.5%, and the manufacturing job openings rate was unchanged at 3.4%. In construction, the rate was stable at 3.3%.

The level of job openings declined 3.0% (+16.7% y/y) and reversed the April rise. Private-sector openings fell 3.6% (16.6% y/y) to 6.035 million. Job openings increased 28.9% y/y in trade, transportation & utilities. Professional & business services job openings gained 20.6% y/y while leisure & hospitality openings rose 9.5% y/y. Openings in education & health services increased 12.4% y/y and factory sector openings increased by one-quarter y/y. Job openings in construction gained by one-third y/y.

The private-sector hiring rate rose to 4.3%, the highest level since March 2007. The rate in leisure & hospitality (6.6%), professional and business services (5.7%) and trade, transportation & utilities (4.0%) remained firm. In construction, the rate rose to 5.3% and in education & health services, it improved to 3.1%, the highest level since May 2006. In the factory sector, the rate declined to 2.7%.

Total hiring increased 4.9% y/y. Hiring in the private sector rose 5.2% y/y as professional & business services jobs gained 5.3% y/y. Factory sector hiring rose 4.2% y/y, and construction sector employment rose 3.8% y/y. Leisure & hospitality hiring improved 8.5% y/y, while education & health services employment improved 8.7% y/y.

The overall job separations rate was stable m/m at 3.7% and equaled the highest level since January 2009. It rose to 4.1% in the private sector. The level of overall separations rose 3.8% y/y.

The level of layoffs declined 6.0% y/y, leaving the 1.1% layoff rate down from a 2015 high of 1.4%. In the private sector, the layoff rate fell to 1.2%.

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) May Apr Mar May'17 May'16 May'15
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 4.3 4.4 4.3 3.7 3.8 3.7
 Total (000s) 6,638 6,840 6,633 5,688 5,696 5,426
Hires, Total
 Rate (%)  3.9 3.8 3.7 3.7 3.6 3.6
 Total (000s) 5,754 5,581 5,486 5,486 5,215 5,123
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.1 1.2 1.0 1.2 1.2 1.2
 Total (000s) 1,588 1,731 1,547 1,689 1,753 1,656
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