JOLTS Report: US Job Openings Highest Since January 2001

The U.S. Labor Department has released its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for the month of August. While this is a bit of a look back, compared to other more recent data, these reports confirm underlying strength in the jobs market by showing how many job openings there are. It also aims to show whether the jobs market is strong enough for people to consider quitting their existing job to move elsewhere or to pursue other passions they prefer rather than “being stuck in their jobs” as so many workers feel from time to time.

Tuesday’s report is not a market-mover of an economic release due to the delay. Still, there is a hidden strength in this report that should offer strong support for recent college grads and those looking to get back into the labor force.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 4.8 million job openings on the last business day of August. This compared to 4.6 million openings at the end of July, and a closer look signaled that this was a 13.5-year high! Additional BLS data showed that the hires rate of 3.3% was down and the separations rate of 3.2% was essentially unchanged in the month of August.

Within separations, the quits rate of 1.8% was unchanged and the layoffs and discharges rate of 1.1% was deemed as being little changed.

Not that total job openings was at the highest level going all the way back to January 2001. The number of job openings were shown to have increased for the total private sector, though it was little changed for government, with key gains seen in nondurable goods manufacturing, health care and social assistance, and in accommodation and food services.

Addition commentary from the BLS:

Over the 12 months ending in August 2014, hires totaled 56.2 million and separations totaled 53.6 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.5 million. These figures include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

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