There were 3.4 million job openings on the last business day of October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on December 7. The job openings rate increased over the month to 2.5 percent. The hires rate remained at 3.2 percent in October, while the separations rate was essentially unchanged at 3.1 percent. 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.
The number of job openings in October was 3.4 million, which was up from 3.0 million in September. Since the most recent series trough in July 2009, the number of job openings has risen by 1.0 million or 44 percent. 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 October remained 1.0 million below the 4.4 million openings when the recession began in December 2007.
The number of job openings in October (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 decreased for federal government. Over the year, the job openings level increased in seven industries and decreased in two industries. The job openings level was up over the year in three of the four regions: the Northeast, South and West.
In October, 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 October 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 October, 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 retail trade, decreased in real estate and rental and leasing and was essentially unchanged in the remaining industries.
Total separations includes quits (voluntary separations), layoffs and discharges (involuntary separations) and other separations (including retirements). The total separations, or turnover, rate in October was little changed for total non-farm and total private, but the rate decreased for government. Over the 12 months ending in October, the total separations rate (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total non-farm, total private and government.
The quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs. In October, the quits rate was little changed for total non-farm (1.5 percent), total private (1.7 percent) and government (0.5 percent) and in every industry and region. The number of quits in October (2.0 million) is somewhat higher than the series trough in September 2009 (1.7 million), but it is still well below the series peak in November 2006 (3.2 million).
Over the 12 months ending in October, the quits rate (not seasonally adjusted) increased for total non-farm; total private; professional and business services; and arts, entertainment and recreation as well as in the Midwest and South regions.
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 October for total non-farm and total private but fell for government. The number of layoffs and discharges for total non-farm peaked at 2.6 million in January 2009, falling to 1.7 million in October 2010. In government, the number of layoffs and discharges in October (108,000) was lower than when the recession began in December 2007 (117,000).
The layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) declined over the 12 months ending in October for total non-farm and total private, but the level increased in federal government. The layoffs and discharges level declined over the year in many industries and in the South and Midwest regions.
The other separations series is not seasonally adjusted. In October, there were 302,000 other separations for total non-farm, 257,000 for total private and 44,000 for government. Compared to October 2009, the number of other separations was little changed for total non-farm and total private. The number of other separations decreased over the year for federal 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 of layoffs and discharges at the total non-farm level have been close. In October 2010, the proportion of quits for total non-farm was 49 percent and the proportion of layoffs and discharges was 42 percent. For total private, the proportions were 50 percent quits and 43 percent layoffs and discharges. For government, the proportions were 39 percent quits and 39 percent layoffs and discharges. The proportion of layoffs and discharges in government had been higher than usual in parts of 2009 and 2010 due to layoffs of temporary Census 2010 workers. This proportion decreased in October as most temporary Census 2010 workers had already been discharged.