JOLTs: Sharply Higher Job Openings

February 12, 2019
Bottom Line: The JOLTs report for December showed sharply higher job openings, and there were upward revisions to opening in November, pushing the 3-month average for openings over 7.2 million, sharply higher than the average for the last 12 months of 6.85 million. The pace of growth in total hires, net positive across all industries, is also accelerating but not nearly as fast. The quit rate was unchanged at 2.3%, while the layoff & discharge rate fell slightly to 1.1%. Finally, the number of job openings as a % of short-term unemployed (less than 27 weeks) is now 150.6% vs. 152.0% vs last month. Overall, this report confirms continued strength in labor markets. Job Openings ROSE by 169k in December to 7.335 million, compared with market expectations for an increase to 6.846 million. Government job openings FELL by 29k. Consequently, private sector job openings ROSE by 198k. Over the past 12 months, there were 1,666k more job openings, 2,678k more than the March 2007 pre-recession peak level. Job Hires ROSE by 95k in December to 5.907 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 391k more job hires , 438k above their November 2006 pre-recession peak level. Job Separations FELL by 18k in December to 5.545 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 231k more job separations. The Hires to Job openings ratio FELL by 0.006 points from 0.811 to 0.805 and is modestly below its 12 month average of 0.833. The Number of Unemployed to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.02 points from 0.84 to 0.86 and is modestly below its 12 month average of 0.92. This ratio has been declining since its July 2009 peak of 6.7 amid some volatility.