There Are Still Over 6 Million Job Openings in America

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary for the month of September. This so-called JOLTS report never really moves the markets, but it can be used a barometer for measuring just how strong some of the individual payrolls and unemployment reports can be. As a reminder, last week’s lower than expected payrolls disappointment was probably not that disappointing.

While this may not be a market-moving report, economists, employers and those seeking jobs should pay close attention to the JOLTS report each month. This report shows just how strong the underlying trends are in the job market. Note that a strong number of quits and job openings should be seen, because workers leaving a job for greener pastures or a better life fit means that openings have created in their absence.

Tuesday’s BLS report indicated that the number of job openings was little changed at 6.093 million on the last business day of September. This was 6.090 million¬†in August, but it is up from 5.666 million a year earlier. While the BLS JOLTS report uses “little changed” on its numbers, there is a robust jobs market for openings at this time. Hires were 5.3 million and separations were 5.2 million.

On the last day of September, there were 6.1 million job openings in the United States. The BLS even noted that the job openings have been at or near record high levels since June of this year, and the job openings rate was 4.0% in September. Job openings changes were listed as follows:

  • Professional and business services, +156,000
  • Other services, +52,000
  • State and local government education, +36,000
  • Federal government, +15,000

Job openings decreased in accommodation and food services at a rate of 111,000, which has been seen in other labor data on the back of storms. Information jobs were also listed as 28,000 lower in September.

Additional data were shown as follows:

  • The number of hires was little changed at 5.3 million in September and the hires rate was 3.6%.
  • The number of total separations was little changed at 5.2 million and the total separations rate was 3.6%.
  • The number of quits was little changed at 3.2 million and the quits rate was 2.2%.
  • There were 1.7 million layoffs and discharges in September, with a layoffs and discharges rate of 1.2%.
  • The number of “other separations” ticked lower in September to 355,000.

The BLS did make a special note regarding the impact of Hurricane Irma:

Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida during September, the reference month for the preliminary estimates in this release. All possible efforts were made to contact and collect data from survey respondents in the hurricane-affected areas. A review of the data indicated that Hurricane Irma had no discernible effect on the JOLTS estimates for September.

Again, the monthly JOLTS report should be used as a guide to the underlying strength or weakness in the monthly jobs market data.