Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Job Openings and Hires Show Little Postrecession Improvement: JOLTS Data Show Only Modest Labor Market Gains since the End of the 2007-2009 Recession; the Job Openings and Hires Levels Have Been Rising since Mid-2009 but, at the End of 2010, Were Well below Their Prerecession Levels

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Job Openings and Hires Show Little Postrecession Improvement: JOLTS Data Show Only Modest Labor Market Gains since the End of the 2007-2009 Recession; the Job Openings and Hires Levels Have Been Rising since Mid-2009 but, at the End of 2010, Were Well below Their Prerecession Levels

Article excerpt

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data showed only slight improvement since June 2009, the end of the most recent recession. (1) The seasonally-adjusted number of job openings--a measure of labor demand--increased from 2.4 million in June 2009 to 2.9 million in December 2010. While the level shows improvement, it is still well below the 4.4 million posted for December 2007, the onset of the recession. The hires level--a measure of worker flows--increased from 3.6 million at the end of the recession to 3.9 million in December 2010. The separations level, another worker-flow measure, decreased from 4.1 million in June 2009 to 3.8 million in December 2010. (See table 1.)

The JOLTS program measures job openings, hires, and separations on a monthly basis by industry (2) and geographic region. JOLTS gauges labor demand by collecting data monthly from a sample of approximately 16,000 nonfarm business establishments. Published JOLTS data are available from December 2000 forward. Unless otherwise noted, JOLTS data used in this report are seasonally adjusted.

Job openings

Job openings reflected a contraction in labor demand during the most recent recession. Total private job openings leveled off and then began to decline in advance of the January 2008 peak in the Current Establishment Statistics (3) (CES) total private employment estimates and before the official start of the recession. (4) The rate of decrease in job openings accelerated at the start of the recession. The decline in job openings then slowed in the spring of 2009. In July 2009, the total private job openings level dropped to a series low of 1.8 million, which was 2.5 million below the March 2007 peak of 4.3 million. Since July 2009, job openings have climbed steadily. Job openings and employment tend to move in a similar pattern. Fluctuations or irregularities in the JOLTS data are generally attributable to its relatively small sample size and resultant sampling error. (See chart 1 for a comparison of JOLTS job openings and CES employment.)

Census effect. Job openings attributable to the 2010 decennial census are reflected in the JOLTS total nonfarm job openings estimates, while JOLTS total private job openings exclude government job openings. In chart 2, the number of government job openings is measured on the right axis and the total nonfarm and total private job openings are measured on the left axis. Some census-related job openings became available in late 2008. Then, in the spring of 2009, job openings for the first major hiring of the 2010 census became available. In spring 2010, the need for door-to-door follow-up interviews with households that hadn't responded to the mailed census form or had not received one in the mail resulted in the posting of additional job openings for census workers. (5)

Job openings by region. Regional job openings showed trends similar to those for the nonfarm total. Job openings in each of the four regions trended downward before the beginning of the most recent recession. The West, South, and Northeast each experienced series troughs in July 2009, and the Midwest experienced its trough in April 2009. Job openings in each region trended upwards from the summer of 2009 through 2010. Job openings data for each region commenced downturns before downturns began in each region's CES employment data. (6) (See chart 3.)

Job openings and unemployment. Job openings generally move inversely to unemployment. An economic expansion typically is characterized by low unemployment and a high level of job openings. An economic contraction is likely to be marked by high unemployment and a low number of job openings. Since the end of the most recent recession, the gap between the unemployment rate and the job openings rate has narrowed slightly. The difference between the unemployment rate and the job openings rate was 7.2 percent in December 2010, down from a high of 8.3 percent in October 2009. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.