U.S. job openings rate shows little change

RP news wires
Tags: talent management, business management

There were 2.9 million job openings on the last business day of September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on November 9. The job openings rate was little changed over the month at 2.2 percent. The hires rate and separations rate both remained at 3.2 percent in September. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires and separations for the total non-farm sector by industry and geographic region.

Job Openings
The number of job openings in September was 2.9 million, which was little changed from August. Although the month-to-month change is small, the number of job openings in September was 25 percent higher than the number at the most recent series trough in July 2009. This trough immediately followed the end of the recession in June 2009 (as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research). Even with the gains since July 2009, the number of job openings in September remained below the 4.4 million jobs open when the recession began in December 2007.

The number of job openings in September (not seasonally adjusted) increased from 12 months earlier for total non-farm and total private. The level was little changed over the year for government overall but increased for federal government. Over the year, the job openings level decreased in two industries and increased in four industries. The job openings level was essentially unchanged over the year in three of the four regions but increased in the West.

Hires
In September, the hires rate remained at 3.2 percent for total non-farm and the rate was essentially unchanged for all industries and regions. There were 4.2 million hires during the month, 9 percent higher than the most recent series trough in June 2009. This trough coincided with the official end of the recession. Despite the gains since June 2009, the number of hires in September remained below the 5.0 million hires when the recession began in December 2007. Since their respective troughs, the hires level has risen at a slower pace than the job openings level.

Over the 12 months ending in September, the hires rate (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total non-farm and total private but fell slightly for government. The hires rate increased over the past 12 months in finance and insurance and in professional and business services.

Separations
Total separations includes quits (voluntary separations), layoffs and discharges (involuntary separations) and other separations (including retirements). The total separations, or turnover, rate in September was little changed for total non-farm, total private and government. Over the 12 months ending in September, the total separations rate (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total non-farm and total private but increased for government. The rise in government separations was due largely to separations of temporary Census 2010 workers.

The quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs. In September, the quits rate was little changed for total non-farm (1.6 percent), total private (1.8 percent) and government (0.6 percent) and in every industry and region. After falling by 1.4 million from its November 2006 peak to its September 2009 trough, the number of quits rose by 326,000 between September 2009 and September 2010.

Over the 12 months ending in September, the quits rate (not seasonally adjusted) increased for total non-farm and total private and in many industries as well as in the South region.

The layoffs and discharges component of total separations is seasonally adjusted at the total non-farm, total private and government levels. The layoffs and discharges level was essentially unchanged in September for total non-farm and total private but fell slightly for government. The number of layoffs and discharges for total non-farm peaked at 2.6 million in January 2009, falling to 1.8 million in September 2010. In government, the number of layoffs and discharges in September (203,000) was higher than when the recession began in December 2007 (117,000) due mostly to the release of temporary Census 2010 workers.

The layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) declined over the 12 months ending in September for total non-farm and total private. The layoffs and discharges level increased over the year in federal government reflecting the layoffs of temporary Census 2010 workers. The layoffs and discharges level declined over the year in many industries and in the Northeast, South and West regions. The other separations series is not seasonally adjusted. In September, there were 358,000 other separations for total non-farm, 289,000 for total private and 69,000 for government. Compared to September 2009, the number of other separations was little changed for total non-farm and total private; the number increased over the year for government due to a rise in the number in state and local government.

Relative Contributions to Separations
The total separations level is influenced by the relative contribution of its three components – quits, layoffs and discharges and other separations. The percentage of total separations at the total non-farm level attributable to the individual components has varied over time, but for the majority of the months since the series began in December 2000, the proportion of quits has exceeded the proportion of layoffs and discharges. Other separations is historically a very small portion of total separations; it has rarely been above 10 percent of the total.

Since February 2010, the proportions of quits and layoffs and discharges at the total non-farm level have been close. In September 2010, the proportion of quits for total non-farm was 49 percent and the proportion of layoffs and discharges was 43 percent. For total private, the proportions were 50 percent quits and 42 percent layoffs and discharges. For government, the proportions were 32 percent quits and 53 percent layoffs and discharges. The proportion of layoffs and discharges in government has been elevated in parts of 2009 and 2010 due to layoffs of temporary Census 2010 workers.


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