Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BLS: Near Record Low Job Openings in November

by Bill McBride on 1/12/2010 10:00:00 AM

From the BLS: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary

There were 2.4 million job openings on the last business day of November 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The job openings rate was little changed over the month at 1.8 percent. The openings rate has held relatively steady since March 2009. The hires rate (3.2 percent) and the separations rate (3.3 percent) were essentially unchanged in November.
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 (purple Line), Quits (light blue bars) and Layoff, Discharges and other (red bars) from the JOLTS. Red and light blue 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 (purple line) and separations (red and light blue together) are pretty close each month. When the purple 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 4.176 million hires in November, and 4.340 million separations, or 164 thousand net jobs lost. The comparable CES report showed a gain of 4 thousand jobs in November (after revisions).

Openings near a series low can't be a positive sign. Separations have declined sharply, but hiring has not picked up. This also suggests that eventually (possibly when the March 2010 benchmark revision is announced in Feb 2011), the November net change in employment will be revised down.

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