Tuesday, May 07, 2013

BLS: Job Openings decreased slightly in March

by Bill McBride on 5/07/2013 10:11:00 AM

From the BLS: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary

There were 3.8 million job openings on the last business day of March, little changed from 3.9 million in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The hires rate (3.2 percent) and separations rate (3.1 percent) were little changed in March....
...
Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. ... The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the 12 months ending in March for total nonfarm, total private, and government.
The following graph shows job openings (yellow line), hires (dark blue), Layoff, Discharges and other (red column), and Quits (light blue column) from the JOLTS.

This series started in December 2000.

Note: The difference between JOLTS hires and separations is similar to the CES (payroll survey) net jobs headline numbers. This report is for March, the most recent employment report was for April.

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

Notice that hires (dark blue) and total separations (red and light blue columns stacked) are pretty close each month. This is a measure of turnover.  When the blue line is above the two stacked columns, the economy is adding net jobs - when it is below the columns, the economy is losing jobs.

Jobs openings decreased in March to 3.844 million, down from 3.899 million in February. The number of job openings (yellow) has generally been trending up, but openings are unchanged year-over-year compared to March 2012. 

Quits were down in March, and quits are mostly unchanged year-over-year. These are voluntary separations. (see light blue columns at bottom of graph for trend for "quits").

Not much changes month-to-month in this report - and the data is noisy month-to-month, but the general trend suggests a gradually improving labor market.

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