Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

New Tools for Labor Market Analysis: JOLTS: As a Single, Direct Source for Data on Job Openings, Hires, and Separations, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) Should Be a Useful Indicator of the Demand for Labor in the U.S. Labor Market and of Other Economic Conditions. (Job Openings and Labor Turnover)

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

New Tools for Labor Market Analysis: JOLTS: As a Single, Direct Source for Data on Job Openings, Hires, and Separations, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) Should Be a Useful Indicator of the Demand for Labor in the U.S. Labor Market and of Other Economic Conditions. (Job Openings and Labor Turnover)

Article excerpt

Analysis of the U.S. labor market is a difficult and challenging effort. A number of existing economic indicators, including the unemployment rate, payroll employment, and others, serve as useful measures of labor market activity, general economic conditions, and labor supply. However, to facilitate a more comprehensive analysis of the U.S. labor market and to show how changes in labor supply and demand affect the overall economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will introduce a new data series measuring labor demand and turnover: the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). (1)

The availability of unfilled jobs--the number of job openings or the openings rate--is an important measure of the tightness of labor markets. JOLTS calculates the number of job openings from a nationwide sample of establishments and computes a job openings, or vacancy, rate. This new survey also collects data on separations by type and hires, providing a single source for these data that will enhance empirical analyses of the economy and the labor market. This article briefly describes the survey and then discusses how JOLTS data will help enrich analysis of the U.S. labor market and the economy as a whole.

The survey

BLS collects and analyzes monthly data on many aspects of the U.S. labor market. One BLS survey, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, collects data from businesses and produces employment estimates. Another survey, the Current Population Survey (CPS), conducted by the Census Bureau, collects employment status data from households for BLS to determine the unemployment rate, which measures excess labor supply. The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, completes the labor market picture by collecting monthly data from businesses to measure unmet labor demand and job turnover.

This new program involves the collection, processing, and dissemination of job openings and labor turnover data from a sample of 16,000 business establishments. The universe frame for the JOLTS sample consists of approximately 8 million establishments compiled as part of the operations of the BLS Covered Employment and Wages, or ES-202, program. This frame includes all employers subject to State Unemployment Insurance (UI) laws and Federal agencies subject to the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. The sampling frame is stratified by ownership (public or private), geographic region, major industry division, and size class. The JOLTS sample is representative of private nonfarm establishments as well as Federal, State, and local government entities in the 50 States and the District of Columbia. The sample is rotated so that most establishments participate in the survey for 18 consecutive months. Total employment estimates from JOLTS are controlled to the current month CES employment estimates, and this is used to adjust the levels for all other JOLTS data elements.

The data elements collected monthly from each establishment include employment for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month; the number of job openings on the last business day of the month; and hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations for the entire month. To encourage consistent and accurate reporting, respondents are given detailed definitions for each data element. For example, the definition of a job opening requires that a specific position exists, the job could start within 30 days, and that the employer is actively recruiting from outside the establishment to fill the position. Hires are all additions to the payroll during the month, and a layoff should be counted if it lasts or is expected to last more than 7 days.

BLS anticipates releasing monthly estimates of job openings, hires, and separation rates and levels beginning in early 2002. The JOLTS data series will be considered a developmental series for the first 2 years of publication. Estimates will be released for the Nation as a whole and for four geographic regions. …

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