JOLTs: Job Openings Slide But Remain Near Cycle Highs

July 9, 2019
Bottom Line: Job openings fell for the second straight month, this time attributable to a sharp drop in government job openings. The overall level of job openings remains near cycle highs, though, and the trend is sideways at this point. Hires also remain near cycle highs but have been moving mostly sideways for nearly two years, longer than openings. Across all industries net hiring was still positive. The quit rate was unchanged at to 2.3%, while the layoff & discharge rate was unchanged at 1.2%. Overall the report shows a labor market that remains strong but is now stabilizing with a substantial "skills gap" between openings and hires as businesses struggle to find labor with the right skills for their openings. Job Openings FELL by 49k in May to 7.323 million, compared with market expectations for a decline to 7.470 million. Government job openings FELL by 54k. Consequently, private sector job openings ROSE by 5k. Over the past 12 months, there were 197k more job openings, 2,666k more than the March 2007 pre-recession peak level. Job Hires FELL by 266k in May to 5.725 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 137k more job hires , 256k above their November 2006 pre-recession peak level. Job Separations FELL by 192k in May to 5.495 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 7k more job separations. The Hires to Job openings ratio FELL by 0.031 points from 0.813 to 0.782 and is slightly above its 12 month average of 0.779. The Number of Unemployed to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.01 points from 0.79 to 0.80 and is modestly below its 12 month average of 0.83. This ratio has been declining since its July 2009 peak of 6.7 amid some volatility.