JOLTs: Openings Rebounded in May, Hires Increased

July 7, 2020
Bottom Line: The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary offered more details into how shutdowns and reopenings for the novel coronavirus impacted the labor market. Separations were extreme in April, still above average in May but quite low in May. Hiring rebounded swiftly in May after slow readings in March and April. It is notable, though, that even in March and April, the shock to hiring was not nearly as large relative to trend as it was for separations. Separations spiked to nearly 3x normal in March before returning to the trend by May, further demonstrating that the burden of shutdowns was borne by a few sectors of the economy, while others continued to hire. Job openings rebounded in May, but are still not back to pre-Covid trend levels. Overall, this report supports two important conclusions for the labor market -- 1. the burden of labor market volatility was felt mostly in a few industries like leisure and hospitality; and, 2. total hiring improved notably in May as separations also dropped to more normal levels. Job Openings ROSE by 401k in May to 5.397 million, compared with market expectations for an increase to 4.500 million. Government job openings FELL by 9k. Consequently, private-sector job openings ROSE by 410k. Over the past 12 months, there were 1,903k more job openings. Job Hires ROSE by 2440k in May to 6.487 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 800k more job hires , 1,018k above their November 2006 pre-recession peak level. Job Separations FELL by 5830k in May to 4.145 million. Over the past 12 months, there were 1402k more job separations. The Hires to Job openings ratio ROSE by 0.392 points from 0.810 to 1.202 and is sharply above its 12 month average of 0.859. The Number of Unemployed to Job openings ratio FELL by 0.73 points from 4.62 to 3.89 and is sharply above its 12 month average of 1.43.