Job openings trend lower in October

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job openings hiring

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that the number of job openings fell to 10.33 million in October. In addition, last month’s job openings figure was revised lower by 30,000 jobs. Hiring was down from last month’s revised figures for the economy as a whole. Total separations rose slightly as an increase in layoffs overcame a decrease in quits.

Hiring lower, firing higher

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 job openings were down by 353,000 at the end of October from the revised level of the month before. The October job openings figure represents 6.5 percent of total employment plus job openings. For comparison, the unemployment rate in October was reported to be 3.7 percent and 6.1 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 October was 6.01 million, while the number of people leaving their old jobs was 5.68 million. Of those leaving their jobs, 4.02 million quit voluntarily, representing 71 percent of total separations, 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 0.1 percentage point from last month’s figure at 2.6 percent of the labor force. The involuntary separations rate was unchanged from last month’s revised figure at 0.9 percent.

Construction employment edges up

The first chart, below, shows the employment situation for the construction jobs market over the last 37 months. It shows that October saw a net increase of 6,000 jobs.

construction job openings

Construction jobs openings in October were reported to be 371,000 jobs, 5 percent lower than the year-earlier level. On a month-over-month basis, openings for construction jobs were reported to fall by 52,000 openings from September’s revised (+1,000 jobs) job openings figure. Job openings in the construction category represent 4.6 percent of total employment plus job openings, down from the 5.2 percent level reported last month.

Hiring was reported to be down by 27,000 jobs in October from the prior month’s revised (-1,000 jobs) jobs figure at 332,000 new hires. The number of construction jobs that were filled in October was reported to be down 8 percent year-over-year.

Construction jobs total separations were reported to fall by 17,000 jobs from the prior month’s revised (-1,000 jobs) figure to 326,000 jobs. Quits were reported to rise by 31,000 jobs from September’s revised (+6,000 jobs) figure to a level of 189,000 jobs. Layoffs were reported to fall by 39,000 from September’s revised (-5,000 jobs) figure to 134,000 jobs. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were reported to fall by 9,000 jobs to a level of 3,000 jobs. Quits represented 58 percent of separations for the month, up from the revised level of 46 percent reported for September.

RERL employment edges down

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 fall by 7,000 jobs in October, the second decline in the last 3 months.

RERL job openings

The number of job openings in the RERL category was 185,000 jobs at the end of October. This was reported to be down 5,000 job openings from the significantly revised (-31,000 jobs) level of the month before. Job openings in October were 73 percent higher than their year-earlier level. Job openings in the RERL category represent 7.3 percent of total employment plus job openings.

Hiring in October was down by 9,000 jobs from September’s revised (+8,000 jobs) level at 77,000 jobs. This hiring figure was 4 percent below the year-earlier level.

Total separations in the RERL jobs category in October were down 4,000 jobs from September’s revised (+7,000 jobs) figure at 77,000 jobs. Quits fell by 6,000 jobs from September’s revised (+3,000 jobs) figure at 54,000 jobs. Quits were reported to be down 10 percent for the month and represented 64 percent of total separations in October.

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.