Tuesday, March 09, 2010

BLS: Low Labor Turnover, More Job Openings in January

by Calculated Risk on 3/09/2010 10:00:00 AM

From the BLS: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary

There were 2.7 million job openings on the last business day of January 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The job openings rate rose over the month to 2.1 percent, the highest the rate has been since February 2009. The hires rate (3.1 percent) and the separations rate (3.2 percent) were unchanged in January.
Note: The difference between JOLTS hires and separations is similar to the CES (payroll survey) net jobs headline numbers. 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 stacked together) are pretty close each month. This is the level of turnover 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 4.08 million hires in January (SA), and 4.122 million total separations, or 42 thousand net jobs lost. The comparable CES report showed a loss of 26 thousand jobs in January (after revision).

Separations have declined sharply from early 2009, but hiring has barely picked up. Quits (light blue on graph) are at near the 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 weak labor market.