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JOLTs: Openings Decline Sharply As Hires Rise Slightly

February 11, 2020

Bottom Line: The reported level of vacancies fell and put the December level sharply below its 6- and 12-month average. Across all industries, net hiring was still positive. And despite the sharp decline at year-end, the average level of openings for 2019 was still sharply higher than in prior years. The quit rate was unchanged at 2.3%, while the layoff & discharge rate was unchanged at 1.2%. The number of job openings as a % of short-term unemployed (less than 27 weeks) is now 140.6% vs. 147.8% vs. last month. Overall, the tally of job openings has been quite volatile while hiring has been mostly steady, rising at a pace consistent with a late-cycle but still robust labor market.

Job Openings FELL by 364k in December to 6.423 million, compared with market expectations for a decline to 6.925 million.

Government job openings FELL by 32k. Consequently, private sector job openings FELL by 332k. Over the past 12 months, there were 1,056k more job openings , 1,766k more than the March 2007 pre-recession peak level.

Job Hires ROSE by 80k in December to 5.907 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 190k more job hires , 438k above their November 2006 pre-recession peak level.

Job Separations ROSE by 21k in December to 5.730 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 261k more job separations.

The Hires to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.061 points from 0.859 to 0.920 and is moderately above its 12 month average of 0.811.

The Number of Unemployed to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.04 points from 0.86 to 0.90 and is modestly above its 12 month average of 0.83. This ratio has been declining since its July 2009 peak of 6.7 amid some volatility.

Article by Contingent Macro Advisors