Tuesday, December 08, 2009

BLS: Near Record Low Labor Turnover

by Bill McBride on 12/08/2009 11:59:00 PM

From the BLS: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary

There were 2.5 million job openings on the last business day of October 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The job openings rate was unchanged over the month at 1.9 percent. The openings rate has held relatively steady since March 2009. The hires rate (3.0 percent) and the separations rate (3.2 percent) were essentially unchanged and remained low.
Note: The difference between JOLTS hires and separations is similar to the CES (payroll survey) net jobs headline numbers. Remember the CES (Current Employment Statistics, payroll survey) is for positions, the CPS (Current Population Survey, commonly called the household survey) is for people. See Jobs and the Unemployment Rate for a comparison of the two surveys.

The following graph shows job openings (yellow line), hires (blue Line), Quits (green bars) and Layoff, Discharges and other (red bars) from the JOLTS. Red and green added together equals total separations.

Unfortunately this is a new series and only started in December 2000.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Notice that hires (blue line) and separations (red and green together) are pretty close each month. When the blue line is above total separations, the economy is adding net jobs, when the blue line is below total separations, the economy is losing net jobs.

According to the JOLTS report, there were 3.966 million hires in October, and 4.203 million separations, or 237 thousand net jobs lost.

I'm not sure if openings are predictive of future hires (the data set is limited), but openings near a series low can't be a positive. Separations have declined sharply, with fewer quits and layoffs, but hiring has not picked up. And quits at a series low suggests those that are employed were holding on to their current jobs in October.

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