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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

BLS: Low Labor Turnover, Fewer Job Openings in February

by Calculated Risk on 4/06/2010 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 February 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The job openings rate was little changed over the month at 2.1 percent. The hires rate (3.1 percent) and the separations rate (3.1 percent) were also little changed in February.
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 (purple), hires (blue), Total separations (include layoffs, discharges and quits) (red) and Layoff, Discharges and other (yellow) from the JOLTS.

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) and separations (red) are pretty close each month. This is the level of turnover 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 4.96 3.961 million hires in February (SA), and 3.957 million total separations, or 4 thousand net jobs gained. The comparable CES report showed a loss of 14 thousand jobs in February (after revision).

Layoffs and discharges have declined sharply from early 2009 - and that is a good sign.

However, hiring has not picked up - and even though total separations were at a series low, there were few jobs added in February (according to JOLTS). This low turnover rate is another indicator of a weak labor market.