Job openings down slightly in May

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job openings

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that the number of job openings declined in May from last month’s level, but they remained at a very high level. Hiring was down slightly while separations were up slightly during the month.

Overall jobs market remains hot

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 11.25 million job openings at the end of May. This was reported to be down by 427,000 openings from the preliminary level reported last month. However, more than half of this reported decline was due to last month’s figure being revised upward by 281,000 openings.

The May job openings figure represents 6.9 percent of total employment plus job openings. For comparison, the unemployment rate in May was reported to be 3.6 percent and 6.0 million people were unemployed. Another 5.7 million people said that they would like a job but were not counted as being in the labor force since they were not actively seeking employment.

The number of people hired for a new job in May was 6.49 million, while the number of people leaving their old jobs was 5.98 million. Of those leaving their jobs, 4.27 million quit voluntarily, while 1.39 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 down slightly from last month’s revised figure at 2.8 percent of the labor force. The involuntary separations rate was unchanged from last month’s revised figure at 0.8 percent.

Construction employment grows

The first chart, below, shows the employment situation for the construction jobs market over the last 37 months. It shows that May saw a net increase of 27,000 jobs. In addition, April’s job gains were revised upward by 2,000 jobs.

construction job openings

Construction jobs openings in May were reported to be 434,000 jobs, 41 percent higher than the year-earlier level. On a month-over-month basis, openings for construction jobs were reported to fall by 6,000 openings from April’s revised (-9,000) jobs openings figure. Job openings in the construction category represent 5.4 percent of total employment plus job openings.

Hiring was reported to be up by 12,000 jobs in May from the prior month’s revised (-5,000) jobs figure at 361,000 new hires. The number of construction jobs that were filled in April was reported to be up 17.6 percent year-over-year.

Construction jobs separations were reported to fall by 7,000 jobs in May to 334,000 jobs. Quits were reported to rise by 7,000 jobs from April’s revised (-8,000 jobs) figure to a level of 220,000 jobs. Layoffs were reported to fall by 11,000 from April’s revised (+1,000 jobs) figure to 105,000 jobs. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were reported fall by 2,000 jobs from April’s figure to 10,000 jobs. Quits represented 66 percent of separations for the month.

Quits from RERL jobs drop

The last chart, below, shows the employment situation for the real estate and rental and leasing (RERL) jobs category. Employment in this jobs category was reported to rise by 16,000 jobs, reversing last month’s decline.

real estate jobs

The number of job openings in the RERL category was 155,000 jobs at the end of May. This was reported to be up 4,000 job openings from the month before, but only because April’s job openings figure was revised downward by 17,000 jobs. Job openings in May were 39 percent higher than their year-earlier level. Job openings in the RERL category represent 6.1 percent of total employment plus job openings.

Hiring in May was down by 7,000 jobs from April’s revised (-4,000 jobs) level at 83,000 jobs. This hiring figure was 14 percent above the year-earlier level.

Separations in the RERL jobs category in May were down 30,000 jobs from April’s figure at 67,000 jobs. Quits plunged by 33,000 jobs from April’s revised (-1,000 jobs) figure at 47,000 jobs. Last month’s quits figure of 80,000 jobs appears to be an anomaly. Quits were reported to be down 41 percent for the month and represented 70 percent of total separations in May.

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.