Job Openings Fall in Oct., Up 12.5% YoY - Analyst Blog

We got some more detail on the jobs situation today in the form of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS report. Unfortunately the data is for October, not November. The picture it paints is one of year-over-year strength, but month-to-month weakness.

There were 3.267 million job openings in total at the end of October, down 3.3% from September, but up 12.5% from October 2010. Looking at only the private sector, openings were down 3.2% for the month, but up a very strong 13.6% year over year.

The big employment report each month shows only the net change in jobs, not the number created and the number of people who lost their jobs, both of which are always FAR higher than the difference between them. The core of the employment problem is a very low number of hires, not an excessively large number of people getting laid off. If you have a job, you position is pretty secure, but if you are out of work, you are out of luck.

The graph shows that labor force turnover has been exceptionally low in both the recession and in the recovery. Unfortunately this data only goes back to 2001, so it is hard to tell how this compares to previous downturns and recoveries. The difference between the blue hires line and the top of the stacked light blue (quits) and red (layoffs and other) discharge bars roughly corresponds to the net numbers reported in the numbers reported in the big employment report. Note that the red bars are small relative to most of the limited history of this data.

While the decline in job openings on the month is disappointing, the longer-term trend is very much in the right direction. They are up 63.3% off the bottom, but still well below the pre-recession highs. The ratio of unemployed to job openings rose to 4.25% on the month from 4.14 in September, but down from 5.17 a year ago.

We have made substantial progress on the jobs front. The implosion of jobs stopped in the middle of 2009, and we have been making progress ever since. However, that progress has been of the slow, grinding variety.

Since the end of 2009 an increasing proportion of people who have left their jobs have done so voluntarily, which indicates some more confidence in the overall job market. However, the ratio of hires to openings has been sliding, which indicates that there might be some structural issues creeping into the job market. I suspect that is due to the number of people who are underwater on their homes, which makes geographic mobility more difficult.

Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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