5 Things to Know About Job Openings and Hiring

A look at the hiring and firing employers made in June--and the jobs they advertised for.

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Between July 2008 and June 2009, employers made a stunning 51.8 million hires, the Labor Department reports today. Of course, there were 57.1 million separations (via layoffs, quitting, and so forth) over the same period.

[See 10 cities with the most job postings per capita.]

In its monthly JOLTS report--Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary--the Labor Department reports there were 2.6 million job openings on the last business day of June. That's a preliminary figure, but it's very slightly higher than both April and May. Job openings were falling through April, so this may indicate that they bottomed out that month and we'll now continue to see the volume of openings grow, just as the pace of job cutting is slowing.

The volume of openings are, however, a particularly ugly reflection of the current state of the job market. They continue to hover around this 2.5 million-to-2.6 million level, which is the lowest since the data series began in 2000. Of course, at no time since then were job openings as crucial as they are now, with 14.5 million unemployed workers looking for work. There were nearly 6 active job seekers for every opening in June. Just three years ago, there were 1.5 active job seekers for every opening.

[See why job seekers are now relocating]

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • The job openings rate (which is openings as a percentage of total employment plus openings) in June was highest in the Northeast at 2.4 percent, and lowest in the Midwest at 1.6 percent.
    • Also in June, the job openings rate was highest in the healthcare and social assistance field at 2.6 percent. It was lowest, at 0.8 percent, in manufacturing and arts, entertainment, and recreation.
      • The layoffs and discharges rate was lowest for the federal government—0.7 percent—and highest in construction—3.5 percent. These numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
        • The quits rate—a sign of workers' "willingness or ability to change jobs"—remained very low at 1.4 percent. The level of quits was 1.8 million, about 43 percent lower than in December 2006, the most recent high.
        • [See 5 things to know about the end of unemployment benefits.]

          • Employers made 3.8 million hires in June—about a third less than in July 2006, when hires hit the most recent peak.

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