There were 3.2 million job openings on the last business day of November, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on January 11. The job openings rate was essentially unchanged over the month at 2.4 percent. Both the hires rate and the separations rate were little changed at 3.2 percent each in November. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires and separations for the total non-farm sector by industry and by geographic region.

Job Openings
The number of job openings in November was 3.2 million, which was little changed from 3.3 million in October. Since the most recent series trough in July 2009, the number of job openings has risen by 0.9 million, or 39 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 November remained 1.1 million below the 4.4 million openings when the recession began in December 2007.

The number of job openings in November (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. Over the year, the job openings level increased in seven industries and was essentially unchanged in the remaining industries. The job openings level was up over the year in all four regions.

Hires
In November, the hires rate was little changed at 3.2 percent for total non-farm and 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 November 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 November, the hires rate (not seasonally adjusted) was unchanged for total non-farm, total private and government. The hires rate increased over the past 12 months in finance and insurance and was essentially unchanged in the remaining industries.

Separations
Total separations includes quits (voluntary separations), layoffs and discharges (involuntary separations), and other separations (including retirements). The total separations, or turnover, rate in November was essentially unchanged for total non-farm, total private and government. The total separations rate increased for state and local government. Over the 12 months ending in November, the total separations rate (not seasonally adjusted) was unchanged 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 November, the quits rate was unchanged for total non-farm (1.5 percent), total private (1.7 percent) and government (0.5 percent) and there was little or no change in every industry and region. The number of quits in November (2.0 million) is 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 November, the quits rate (not seasonally adjusted) was essentially unchanged for all industries and regions. Quits levels increased over the year in mining and logging and in the Midwest 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 November for total non-farm and total private but increased for government. The number of layoffs and discharges for total non-farm peaked at 2.6 million in January 2009, then fell to 1.8 million in November 2010. In government, the number of layoffs and discharges in November (133,000) was higher than when the recession began in December 2007 (117,000).

The layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) was essentially unchanged over the 12 months ending in November for total non-farm, total private and government. The layoffs and discharges level declined over the year in transportation, warehousing and utilities; professional and business services; federal government; and in the South region. The other separations series is not seasonally adjusted. In November, there were 280,000 other separations for total non-farm, 244,000 for total private and 36,000 for government. Compared to November 2009,  the number of other separations was little changed for total non-farm, total private and government.