Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey News Release

The number of job openings was little changed at 5.8 million on the last business day of December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.5 million and 5.2 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate and the layoffs and discharges rate were little changed at 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by four geographic regions.

Job Openings

On the last business day of December, there were 5.8 million job openings, little changed from November. The job openings rate was 3.8 percent in December. The number of job openings was little changed for total private and for government. Job openings increased in information (+33,000) and federal government (+13,000). Job openings decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases occurring in professional and business services (-119,000), retail trade (-85,000), and construction (-52,000). The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions. (See table 1.)

Hires

The number of hires was little changed at 5.5 million in December. The hires rate was 3.7 percent. The number of hires was little changed for total private, for government, and in all industries and regions. (See table 2.)

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.

The number of total separations was little changed at 5.2 million in December. The total separations rate was 3.6 percent. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and for government. Total separations increased in state and local government education (+17,000). The number of total separations increased in the Midwest region. (See table 3.)

The number of quits was little changed at 3.3 million in December. The quits rate was 2.2 percent. The number of quits was little changed for total private and for government. Quits decreased in federal government (-4,000). The number of quits increased in the Midwest region. (See table 4.)

There were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges in December, little changed from November. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.1 percent in December. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed for total private and for government. Layoffs and discharges increased in state and local government education (+15,000). The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in all four regions. (See table 5.)

The number of other separations was little changed in December at 334,000. The number of other separations was little changed for total private and edged down for government. Other separations decreased in state and local government, excluding education (-11,000). The number of other separations was little changed in all four regions. (See table 6.)

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 December, hires totaled 64.7 million and separations totaled 62.6 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.2 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

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