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JOLTs: Surprise Decline in Job Openings

April 9, 2019
Bottom Line: Job openings fell sharply in February as the volatile accommodation and food services industry saw fewer openings, potentially weather-related with most of the decline in the Northeast and Midwest. The three-month average for openings is still above the 12-month average . Additionally, total hires slowed much less than openings. Overall, while the decline in openings is notable, there was not enough in this report to suggest any shift in labor markets, which remain strong and tight, especially for skilled workers.

Job Openings FELL by 538k in February to 7.087 million, compared with market expectations for an increase to 7.550 million.

Government job openings FELL by 15k. Consequently, private sector job openings FELL by 523k. Over the past 12 months, there were 557k more job openings , 2,430k more than the March 2007 pre-recession peak level.

Job Hires FELL by 133k in February to 5.696 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 102k more job hires , 227k above their November 2006 pre-recession peak level. Job Separations ROSE by 24k in February to 5.556 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 286k more job separations.

The Hires to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.039 points from 0.764 to 0.804 and is modestly above its 12 month average of 0.786. The Number of Unemployed to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.02 points from 0.86 to 0.88 and is modestly above its 12 month average of 0.85. This ratio has been declining since its July 2009 peak of 6.7 amid some volatility.