The number of job openings fell to 6.4 million (-364,000) 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 5.9 million and 5.7 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate and layoffs and discharges rate were unchanged at 2.3 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, and by four geographic regions.
On the last business day of December, the job openings level fell to 6.4 million (-364,000), and the job openings rate decreased to 4.0 percent. Over the year, the job openings level declined by 14.9 percent. Over the month, the number of job openings decreased for total private (-332,000) and was little changed for government. The largest decreases for job openings were in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-88,000), real estate and rental and leasing (-34,000), and educational services (-34,000).
The number of hires was little changed at 5.9 million in December. The hires rate was little changed at 3.9 percent. The hires level increased in accommodation and food services (+69,000). The number of hires increased in the West region.
Total separations include 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 include separations due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.
In December, the number of total separations was little changed at 5.7 million and the rate was little changed at 3.8 percent. The number of total separations decreased in retail trade (-118,000) but increased in other services (+57,000). The total separations level increased in the South region.
The number of quits was little changed in December at 3.5 million and the rate was unchanged at 2.3 percent. Quits decreased in retail trade (-111,000) and arts, entertainment, and recreation (-20,000). The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.
The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in December at 1.9 million and the rate was unchanged at 1.2 percent. Layoffs and discharges increased in other services (+61,000) and arts, entertainment, and recreation (+47,000). The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in state and local government, excluding education (-15,000) and federal government (-3,000). The layoffs and discharges level increased in the South region.
The number of other separations was little changed in December. Other separations decreased in other services (-18,000). The number of other separations was little changed in all four regions.
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 70.0 million and separations totaled 67.8 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.