October job openings fall sharply

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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 in October was 8.73 million. This was reported to be down 617,000 openings month-over-month. In addition, the openings figure for September was revised lower by 203,000 openings. Job openings were down 1,738,000 from the year-ago level.

Hiring was reported to be down from last month’s revised (+33,000) figure for the economy as a whole, falling 18,000 to a level of 5.89 million hires. Total separations rose 51,000 from last month’s revised (+65,000) figure to a level of 5.65 million. Within total separations, quits were reported to fall 0.5 percent while layoffs rose 2.0 percent. Quits represented 64.3 percent of total separations for the month. A high number of people quitting their jobs generally means that people feel that jobs are readily available and that they can find better employment elsewhere.

Overall employment rises despite fall in 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 October job openings figure represents 5.3 percent of total employment plus job openings. For comparison, the unemployment rate in October was reported to be 3.9 percent and 6.51 million people were unemployed. Another 5.37 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 excess of hiring over separations in the October JOLT report implies an employment increase of 240,000 jobs for the month. Last month’s employment increase was revised to 309,000 jobs, down by 32,000 jobs from the gain reported last month.

Of those leaving their jobs in October, 3.63 million quit voluntarily, while 1.64 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 2.3 percent of the labor force. The involuntary separations rate was also unchanged from last month’s revised figure at 1.0 percent.

Construction hiring rebounds

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 gain of 29,000 construction jobs compared to last month’s revised loss of 3,000 jobs.

construction job openings, construction hiring and construction layoffs

Construction jobs openings in October were reported to be 423,000 jobs, 6.3 percent higher than the year-earlier level. On a month-over-month basis, openings for construction jobs were reported to fall by 4,000 openings from September’s revised (-4,000) job openings figure. Job openings in the construction category represent 5.0 percent of total employment plus job openings, down from the 5.1 percent level reported last month.

Hiring was reported to be up 66,000 jobs in October from the prior month’s revised (+6,000) jobs figure at 375,000 new hires. The number of construction jobs that were filled in October was reported to be up 6.8 percent year-over-year.

Construction jobs total separations were reported to rise by 34,000 jobs from the prior month’s revised (+2,000) figure to 346,000 jobs. Quits were reported to rise by 35,000 jobs from September’s revised (-5,000) figure to a level of 173,000 jobs.

Layoffs were reported to rise by 6,000 from September’s revised (+7,000) figure to 163,000 jobs. “Other separations” which includes retirements and transfers, were reported to be down 6,000 at 10,000 jobs. Quits represented 50 percent of separations for the month, up by 4 percentage point from the level reported last month.

RERL job openings and hiring lower

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 3,000 jobs in October.

real estate job openings, hiring and layoffs

The number of job openings in the RERL category was reported to be 168,000 jobs at the end of October. This was down 49,000 job openings from the revised (+29,000) level of the month before. Job openings in October were 33 percent lower than the year-earlier level. Job openings in the RERL category represent 4.9 percent of total employment plus job openings.

Hiring in October was down by 3,000 jobs from September’s revised (+8,000) level at 74,000 jobs. The hiring figure was 3.9 percent below the year-earlier level.

Total separations in the RERL jobs category in October were down by 6,000 from September’s unchanged figure at 71,000 jobs. Quits were down by 8,000 from September’s revised (-6,000) figure at 33,000 jobs. Quits represented 47 percent of total separations in October, down from the revised levels of 53 percent reported in September and 61 percent in August. Layoffs were reported to fall by 6,000 from September’s figure to 25,000 jobs.

The numbers given in the JOLT report are seasonally adjusted and are subject to revision. It is common for 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.