Job openings remain high in November

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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 at the end of November was 10.46 million, up from the preliminary figure reported last month. However, last month’s job openings figure was revised higher by 180,000 jobs, leading to a reported decline in openings. Hiring was down from last month’s revised figures for the economy as a whole. Total separations rose slightly as quits rose while layoffs declined.

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 54,000 at the end of November from the revised level of the month before. The November job openings figure represents 6.8 percent of total employment plus job openings. For comparison, the unemployment rate in November was reported to be 3.7 percent and 6.0 million people were unemployed. Another 5.6 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 November was 6.06 million, while the number of people leaving their old jobs was 5.87 million. Of those leaving their jobs, 4.17 million quit voluntarily, representing 71 percent of total separations, while 1.35 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 up 0.1 percentage point from last month’s figure at 2.7 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 November saw a net increase of 23,000 jobs.

construction employment

Construction jobs openings in November were reported to be 388,000 jobs, 6 percent higher than the year-earlier level. On a month-over-month basis, openings for construction jobs were reported to fall by 2,000 openings from October’s revised (+19,000) job openings figure. Job openings in the construction category represent 4.8 percent of total employment plus job openings, up from the 4.6 percent level reported last month.

Hiring was reported to be down by 28,000 jobs in November from the prior month’s revised (-1,000) jobs figure at 332,000 new hires. The number of construction jobs that were filled in November 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 (+5,000) figure to 309,000 jobs. Quits were reported to fall by 20,000 jobs from October’s revised (-31,000 jobs) figure to a level of 138,000 jobs. Layoffs were reported to fall by 22,000 from October’s revised (+17,000 jobs) figure to 129,000 jobs. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were reported to rise by 11,000 jobs to a level of 19,000 jobs. Quits represented 48 percent of separations for the month, down from the revised level of 50 percent reported for October.

RERL employment also higher

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 12,000 jobs in November. Data revisions resulted in last month’s reported employment decline being revised to no gain.

real estate employment

The number of job openings in the RERL category was 170,000 jobs at the end of November. This was reported to be down 15,000 job openings from the unchanged level of the month before. Job openings in November were 43 percent higher than their year-earlier level. Job openings in the RERL category represent 6.7 percent of total employment plus job openings.

Hiring in November was up by 13,000 jobs from October’s revised (-3,000) level at 87,000 jobs. This hiring figure was 7 percent above the year-earlier level.

Total separations in the RERL jobs category in November were up 1,000 jobs from October’s revised (-10,000) figure at 75,000 jobs. Quits rose by 2,000 jobs from October’s revised (-5,000) figure at 51,000 jobs. Quits were reported to be up 4 percent for the month and represented 68 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.