Job openings remain high in November as quits rise

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job openings quits

The November Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that the number of job openings dropped slightly while remaining at a high level. Hiring and job separations both rose during the month.

Overall jobs market shows gains

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 10.6 million job openings at the end of November. This figure was down by 471,000 from the preliminary level reported last month. The November job openings figure represents 6.6 percent of total employment plus job openings. For comparison, the unemployment rate in November was 3.9 percent and 6.3 million people were unemployed. Another 5.7 million people said that they would like to have a job but that they were not actively looking for employment.

The number of people hired for a new job in November was 6.70 million while the number of people leaving their old jobs was 6.27 million. Of those leaving their jobs, 4.53 million quit voluntarily, a record, while 1.37 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 rose to 3.0 percent of the labor force, tying the record set in September.

Construction hiring up, openings down

The first chart, below, shows the employment situation for the construction jobs market over the last 25 months. It shows that November saw a net rise of 20,000 jobs, down from the rise of 33,000 jobs reported for October and the rise of 40,000 jobs reported for September.

JOLTS Construction jobs

In November, openings for construction jobs were reported to fall by 110,000 openings or 25 percent, aided by October’s job openings figure being revised upward by 45,000 openings. Construction jobs openings in November were reported to be 345,000 jobs, 32 percent higher than the year-earlier level.

Hiring for construction jobs was reported to be up 48,000 jobs in November from October’s revised (-3,000 jobs) figure. The BLS reported that 423,000 construction jobs were filled in November.

Construction jobs separations were reported to rise by 61,000 jobs in November to 403,000 jobs. Quits were up 16,000 jobs to 207,000 jobs, the highest level since July 2007. Layoffs were reported to rise by 49,000 (37 percent) to 181,000 jobs. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were reported fall by 2,000 jobs from October’s revised figure to 16,000 jobs. Quits represented 51 percent of separations for the month.

RERL jobs growth continues 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 4,000 jobs, continuing its positive streak.

JOLTS real estate jobs

The number of openings in the RERL jobs category was 131,000 jobs at the end of November, up 5,000 jobs from the month before. Job openings in November were 61 percent higher than their year-earlier level.

Hiring in November for RERL jobs was unchanged from October’s level at 78,000 jobs. The preliminary figure for October reported last month was not revised this month.

Separations in the RERL jobs category in November were up 6 percent from October’s revised figure (-1,000 jobs) to 74,000 jobs. Quits were up 26 percent to 59,000. Quits represented 80 percent of total separations in November.

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.

Comparing 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 a look at what is driving the employment gains (or losses) in broad employment categories.