Job openings set a record in April

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construction job openings
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released the Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report for April. In addition to setting a series record for the highest number of job opening, this report also saw a record high percentage of people quitting their jobs and a record low percentage of people being involuntarily separated from their jobs.
Defining the reports

For a discussion of the JOLT report and how it relates to the Employment Situation Report, please see the paragraph at the end of this article.

Construction jobs down

The first chart, below, shows the employment situation for the construction jobs market over the last 25 months. After a string of months with relatively steady hiring and separations resulting in modest employment growth, job growth has been up and down for the last 3 months. Both February (-27,000) and April (-12,000) saw net job losses for the month while job growth was strongly positive in March (+84,000).

construction job openings

Openings for construction jobs rose 7 percent in April to 357,000 jobs, aided by March’s figure being revised  downward by 10,000 job openings. The number of openings was at the highest level seen since May 2019, but it trailed the 20-year high of 414,000 set in April 2019. Hiring was down sharply in April, falling 24 percent to 335,000 jobs.

Separations fell by 3 percent in April, with layoffs rising by 5 percent while quits fell by 11 percent. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were up by 50 percent, but they represent a small portion of all separations. Quits represented 55 percent of separations for the month, nearly matching last month’s level.

RERL jobs growth stays positive

The last chart, below, shows the employment situation for the real estate and rental and leasing (RERL) jobs category. Employment growth in this jobs category was again positive in April as both separations and hiring fell.

real estate job openings

The number of job openings in the RERL category leaped in April to 120,000. This was the highest number for this jobs category since March 2019, but it is substantially below the 20-year record of 139,000 job openings set in January 2006.

Hires in April fell 13 percent to 67,000 while separations fell 20 percent to 53,000. Quits represented 70 percent to total separations, indicating that employees have plenty of job options to choose from.

The numbers given in the JOLT report are seasonally adjusted and are subject to revision. It is common for small adjustments to be made in subsequent reports, particularly to the data for the most recent month. The full current JOLT report can be found here.

The reports

The US labor market is dynamic with many people changing jobs in any given month. The JOLT report documents this dynamism by providing details about job openings, hiring and separations. However, it does not break down the jobs market into as fine categories as does the Employment Situation Report, which provides data on total employment and unemployment. For example, while the Employment Situation Report separates residential construction from other construction, the JOLT report does not. The Employment Situation Report separates residential property managers from other types of real estate and rental and leasing professionals, but the JOLT report does not. However, the JOLT report provides a look at what is driving the employment gains (or losses) in broad employment categories.