JOLTS Report: Hiring and Quits Support Stronger Jobs Market

79214824As of the last day in May, there were roughly 4.6 million job openings in America, up from 4.5 million on the last business day of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the so-called JOLTS report. The hires rate was 3.4% in May, and the separations rate was 3.2%. Most important within that separations figure is the quits rate at 1.8% followed by the layoffs and discharges rate of 1.1%.

After the BLS reported a stellar jobs report in June, the picture is becoming more clear. The total private and government numbers were little changed, while openings increased for nondurable manufacturing, health care and social assistance. Positions decreased in retail and in the arts, entertainment and recreation.

There were a total of 4.7 million hires in May, which was referred to as little changed from April. The hires level increased over the year earlier in mining and logging and in retail, and they decreased in finance and insurance.

Total separation, or turnover, includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and "other" separations. The most important part of this report is the quits rate in a strengthening environment, as this implies that workers are quitting one job to move over or up to another that they are either more comfortable in or where they are making more money. Quits also leaves job openings for new workers.

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Of the 4.5 million total separations in May, the quits rate was unchanged at 1.8%, marked with private sector as 2.1% and government at 0.6%. What is interesting here is that the quits rate was little changed in all industries and in all four regions. Also noted:

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in May for total nonfarm and total private and was little changed for government. The number of quits increased over the year in wholesale trade, retail trade, and in accommodation and food services while decreasing in finance and insurance. In the regions, the number of quits rose over the year in the Midwest and South.

Over the 12 months ending in May 2014, hires totaled 55.3 million and separations totaled 53.0 million. This generated a net employment gain of 2.3 million from May of 2013 to May of 2014.

Again, people quitting is what is looked at most closely in a jobs recovery scenario. This means that the power of employment is on the side of workers, and it means that there is a better state of job openings and opportunities.

The JOLTS report is shown both on seasonally adjusted and non-adjusted levels. The seasonally adjusted figure aims to smooth over aberrations, and that often comes under scrutiny. It is easier to scrutinize that data set, but all in all this continues to support a better and better jobs environment, as we have seen in more recent employment reports.

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