Job Openings Unexpectedly Rise in April

The latest job openings and labor turnover summary (JOLTS) report showed that job openings rose unexpectedly to 10.103 million in April. This is the first monthly increase in job openings since December. The latest figure came in above the forecast of 9.775 million vacancies.

Additionally, the quits and total separations inched down to 2.4% and 3.7%, respectively, while hires remained steady at 3.9%.

From the press release:

The number of job openings edged up to 10.1 million on the last business day of April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the month, the number of hires changed little at 6.1 million. Total separations decreased to 5.7 million. Within separations, quits (3.8 million) changed little, while layoffs and discharges (1.6 million) decreased. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, and by establishment size class.

Background on JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover)

The JOLTS report is a monthly survey of job openings, hiring, and job separations (quits, layoffs, discharges) released by the BLS. Unlike the unemployment rate that measures the supply side of the labor market, JOLTS data helps gauge labor demand.

The chart below shows the monthly data points of the four components 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 starting in 2015, as seen in the chart below. The openings MA briefly dipped below the hires for two months (May and June 2020), only to climb above once more in July 2020. Over the last year, job openings, hires, and quits have all been trending down with job openings moving downwards the fastest. During that same time, layoffs and discharges have been slowly trending upwards.

JOLTS Overview

For comparison, here is the monthly BLS Employment Situation Summary charted with JOLTS data:

BLS Nonfarm Jobs versus JOLTS data

In April, there were 5.657 million unemployed workers and 10.103 million job openings. This equates to 1.79 jobs available per unemployed worker in April, up for the first time in three months.

Job Openings Per Unemployed Worker