October Job Openings & Labor Turnover: Openings, Quits Continue to Soar

The latest JOLTS report (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary), with data through October, is now available. From the press release:

The number of job openings increased to 11.0 million on the last business day of October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Hires were little changed at 6.5 million and total separations edged down to 5.9 million. Within separations, the quits rate decreased to 2.8 percent following a series high in September. The layoffs and discharges rate was unchanged at 0.9 percent. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, by four geographic regions, and by establishment size class.

The first chart below shows four of the headline components of the overall series, which the BLS began tracking in December 2000. The time frame is quite limited compared to the main BLS data series in the monthly employment report, many of which go back to 1948, and the enormously popular Nonfarm Employment (PAYEMS) series goes back to 1939. Nevertheless, there are some clear JOLTS correlations with the most recent business cycle trends.

The chart below shows the monthly data points four of the JOLTS series. They are quite volatile, hence the inclusion of six-month moving averages to help identify the trends. The moving average for openings was above the hires levels for over five years, as seen in the chart below. The openings MA dipped below the hires for a brief two months (May and June 2020), only to climb above once more in July 2020.

JOLTS Overview