There Are Now Over 6 Million Job Openings in America

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After each month’s payrolls and unemployment report from the U.S. Department of Labor, economists and investors get a closer look at the internal metrics of the jobs markets by getting a view of the job openings and labor turnovers. This so-called JOLTS report also comes from the Labor Department and it revealed rather different metrics from what was shown in last Friday’s disappointing payrolls gains.

According to the JOLTS report for April, a month ahead of the May payrolls data released last week, there were a record high of 6.044 million job openings on the last business day of April. That is a gain of 259,000 from the March 2017 reading of 5.785 million, but it is 401,000 higher than the 5.643 million openings from April 2016.

Over the month of April, the rate of hires decreased to 5.1 million and separations fell to 5.0 million. Within separations, the quits rate was 2.1% and the rate of layoffs and discharges was 1.1%.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the job openings rate was 4.0%. Of the total openings, there were 220,000 more private sector openings and 39,000 more openings for the government sector.

Another consideration is where the job openings really are. Job openings in the accommodation and food services were up 118,000 and the largest openings by geographic regions were in the Midwest and northeast United Stated. Job openings decreased in durable goods manufacturing by some 30,000 in April.

Of all job openings on a sector-by-sector view, these were the number of openings for each in April of 2017:

  • Mining and logging, 22,000
  • Construction, 203,000
  • Manufacturing. 359,000
  • Trade, transportation and utilities, 950,000
  • Information, 111,000
  • Financial activities, 373,000
  • Professional and business services, 1,134,000
  • Education and health services, 1,112,000
  • Leisure and hospitality, 847,000
  • Government, 580,000

For a job market to be healthy there must be a good number of people quitting their existing jobs. That implies that they are going elsewhere for a better pay opportunity, working closer to home, or taking a job that is perhaps better aligned with their views. In hard times people take and keep jobs far longer because they are just happy to have work. The BLS said:

The number of quits edged down to 3.0 million (-111,000) in April. The quits rate was 2.1 percent. The number of quits was little changed for total private and decreased for government (-21,000). Quits decreased in retail trade (-72,000); state and local government, excluding education (-20,000); and information (-12,000). The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.