Quits set record in September

jobs market quits

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released the Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report on the jobs market for September. It reported that the number of job openings fell slightly but quits were at a record high.

Evaluating the overall jobs market

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.

The BLS reported that there were 10.4 million job openings at the end of September. This is unchanged from the preliminary level reported last month, but last month’s job openings level was revised upward by 190,000 openings in the current report. The September figure represents 6.6 percent of the total employment plus job openings.

For comparison, the unemployment rate in October was 4.6 percent and 7.4 million people were unemployed that month. Another 7.7 million people said that they wanted jobs but had not sought employment recently and so were not counted as part of the labor force.

Within the nonfarm labor market, the number of people hired for a new job was 6.5 million while the number of people leaving their old jobs was 6.2 million. Of those leaving their jobs, 4.4 million left voluntarily, a record, while 1.4 million people were involuntarily separated from their jobs. The remainder of people leaving their jobs left for other reasons, such as retirements or transfers. The portion of people quitting their jobs was 3.0 percent, once again setting a record for the highest rate that the BLS has seen since they have been tracking this data.

Construction employment rises

The first chart, below, shows the employment situation for the construction jobs market over the last 25 months. It shows that September saw the best growth in construction jobs since last March, with a net rise of 28,000 jobs.

construction jobs market

Revisions to August’s data were nearly balanced with the number of hires adjusted upward by 10,000 and the number of separations adjusted upward by 8,000, resulting in a minimal change in the job gains reported for the month.

In September, openings for construction jobs were reported to fall by 25,000 openings. The size of the drop was partly because August’s openings figure was revised upward by 14,000 openings. Construction jobs openings in September were reported to be 333,000 jobs.

Hiring was reported to be down 41,000 jobs in September. This was partly due to the hiring level of the month before being revised upward by 10,000 jobs. The BLS reported that 350,000 construction jobs were filled in September.

Construction jobs separations were reported to fall 62,000 jobs, or 16 percent, in September to 322,000 jobs. Quits were down 9,000 jobs at 183,000 jobs while layoffs were reported to fall by 45,000 to 123,000 jobs. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were reported fall by 8,000 jobs from August’s revised figure (+6,000 jobs) at 16,000 jobs. Quits represented 57 percent of construction jobs market separations for the month.

RERL jobs growth remains positive

The last chart, below, shows the employment situation for the real estate and rental and leasing (RERL) jobs market. Employment growth in this jobs category was positive again in September, as it has been in 16 of the last 17 months.

Real estate jobs market

The number of job openings in the RERL category was reported to fall sharply from the elevated levels it had reached in the two previous months. September job openings came in at 121,000 jobs, down 65,000 jobs from the month before. This was down 35 percent for the month but was up 46 percent compared to the year-earlier level.

Hiring in September was down 8 percent from August’s revised (+3,000) figure to 69,000 jobs.

Separations in September were down 13 percent from August’s revised figure (+9,000 jobs) to 58,000 jobs. Quits were down 12 percent to 36,000 jobs. Quits represented 62 percent of total RERL jobs market separations in September.

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 very 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 employment, 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 insight into what is driving the employment gains (or losses) in broad employment categories.