Multifamily job openings rise in August despite overall openings plunge

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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 fell in August from last month’s level despite last month’s job openings figure being revised lower. Both hiring and separations were up slightly from last month’s revised figures for the economy as a whole.

Big drop in overall job openings

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 10.05 million job openings at the end of August. This was down by 1,186,000 openings from the preliminary level reported last month, and down by 1,117,000 from the revised level of job openings for July in this month’s report.

The August job openings figure represents 6.2 percent of total employment plus job openings. For comparison, the unemployment rate in August was reported to be 3.7 percent and 6.0 million people were unemployed. Another 5.5 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 August was 6.28 million, while the number of people leaving their old jobs was 5.98 million. Of those leaving their jobs, 4.16 million quit voluntarily, while 1.46 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 unchanged from last month’s figure at 2.7 percent of the labor force. The involuntary separations rate was up slightly from last month’s revised figure at 1.0 percent.

Construction employment rises

The first chart, below, shows the employment situation for the construction jobs market over the last 37 months. It shows that August saw a net increase of 13,000 jobs.

construction job openings

Construction jobs openings in August were reported to be 407,000 jobs, 12 percent higher than the year-earlier level. On a month-over-month basis, openings for construction jobs were reported to rise by 54,000 openings from July’s revised (-22,000) job openings figure. Job openings in the construction category represent 5.0 percent of its total employment plus job openings, up from the 4.6 percent level reported last month.

Hiring was reported to be down by 11,000 jobs in August from the prior month’s jobs figure at 373,000 new hires. The number of construction jobs that were filled in August was reported to be up 2 percent year-over-year.

Construction jobs total separations were reported to rise by 5,000 jobs in August to 360,000 jobs. Quits were reported to rise by 19,000 jobs from July’s revised (+17,000 jobs) figure to a level of 193,000 jobs. Layoffs were reported to fall by 9,000 from July’s revised (-10,000 jobs) figure to 125,000 jobs. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were reported to fall by 5,000 jobs to a level of 6,000 jobs. Quits represented 64 percent of separations for the month, up from the revised level of 59 percent reported for July.

RERL jobs continue gains

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 eke out a rise of only 2,000 jobs in August.

real estate job openings

The number of job openings in the RERL category was 177,000 jobs at the end of August. This was reported to be up 10,000 job openings from the revised (+5,000 jobs) level of the month before. Job openings in August were 18 percent higher than their year-earlier level. Job openings in the RERL category represent 7.0 percent of total employment plus job openings.

Hiring in August was down by 2,000 jobs from July’s level at 74,000 jobs. This hiring figure was 1 percent below the year-earlier level. This continues a recent trend of RERL job openings rising but hiring not increasing to match.

Separations in the RERL jobs category in August were up 2,000 jobs from July’s revised (+4,000) figure at 72,000 jobs. Quits rose by 5,000 jobs from July’s revised (+1,000) figure at 52,000 jobs. Quits were reported to be up 11 percent for the month and represented 71 percent of total separations in August.

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.