Tuesday, February 09, 2010

BLS: Few Job Openings in December

by Calculated Risk on 2/09/2010 10:04:00 AM

From the BLS: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary

There were 2.5 million job openings on the last business day of December 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The job openings rate was little changed over the month at 1.9 percent. The job openings rate has held relatively steady since March 2009. The hires rate (3.1 percent) and the separations rate (3.2 percent) were essentially unchanged in December.
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.

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 purple line is below total separations, the economy is losing net jobs.

According to the JOLTS report, there were 4.073 million hires in December, and 4.238 million separations, or 165 thousand net jobs lost. The comparable CES report showed a loss of 150 thousand jobs in December (after revisions).

Separations have declined sharply from earlier in 2009, but hiring has not picked up. Quits (light blue on graph) are at a new low too. Usually "quits" are employees who have already found a new job (as opposed to layoffs and other discharges).

The low turnover rate is another indicator of a very weak labor market.