Job Openings Little Changed at 3.5 Million in February

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—April 10, 2012.  There were 3.5 million job openings on the last business day of February, little changed from January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The hires rate (3.3 percent) and separations rate (3.1 percent) were little changed in February. The job openings rate, at 2.6 percent, has trended upward since the end of the recession in June 2009. (Recession dates are determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research.) This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by geographic region.

Job Openings

The number of job openings in February was 3.5 million, little changed from January. (See table 1.) Although the number of job openings remained below the 4.3 million openings when the recession began in December 2007, the number of job openings has increased 46 percent since the end of the recession in June 2009.

The number of job openings in February (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the year for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Retail trade, health care and social assistance, and state and local government had increases in the number of job openings over the year. The Midwest and South regions also experienced an increase in the number of job openings over the year. (See table 5.)

Hires

In February, the hires rate was essentially unchanged at 3.3 percent for total nonfarm. The hires rate increased in professional and business services over the month and was little changed in the remaining industries and regions. (See table 2.) The number of hires in February was 4.4 million, still below the 5.0 million hires at the beginning of the recession (December 2007) but was up 19 percent since the end of the recession (June 2009).

Over the 12 months ending in February, the hires rate (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm and total private but increased for government. The hires rate rose over the year in health care and social assistance and in state and local government. The hires rate increased in the South region over the year. (See table 6.)

Separations

The total separations figure includes voluntary quits, involuntary layoffs and discharges, and other separations, including retirements. Total separations also  is referred to as turnover.  The seasonally adjusted total separations rate was little changed in February for total nonfarm, total private, and government. (See table 3.) Over the year, the total separations rate (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government. (See table 7.)

The quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs. In February, the quits rate was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government. (See table 4.) The number of quits rose to 2.1 million in February from 1.8 million at the end of the recession in June 2009, although it remained below the 2.9 million recorded when the recession began in December 2007.

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) in February 2012 increased from February 2011 for total nonfarm and was little changed for total private and government. The number of quits over the year was little changed in all four regions. (See table 8.)

The layoffs and discharges component of total separations is seasonally adjusted at the total nonfarm, total private, and government levels and for the four regions. The layoffs and discharges rate was essentially unchanged in February 2012 for total nonfarm, total private, government, and in all four regions. (See table B.) The number of layoffs and discharges for total nonfarm was 1.7 million in February, down from 2.1 million at the end of the recession in June 2009.

The layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) for total nonfarm, total private, and government was little changed from February 2011 to February 2012. Over the year, the number of layoffs and discharges rose for mining and logging. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed over the year in all four regions. (See table 9.)

The other separations component of total separations is seasonally adjusted at the total nonfarm, total private, and government levels. Other separations include separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm. In February 2012, there were 329,000 other separations for total nonfarm, 270,000 for total private, and 59,000 for government. (See table C.) The number of other separations for total nonfarm in February 2012 was 12 percent higher than at the end of the recession in June 2009.

Net Change in Employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle. Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining. Conversely, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising. Over the 12 months ending in February 2012, hires totaled 50.6 million and separations totaled 48.6 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.0 million. These figures include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

Source: bls.gov