Job Openings Short of December Prediction

Feb. 6, 2018

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) remained fairly constant to end 2017, according to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job openings in December declined slightly from nearly six million to 5.8 million. While some sectors (information and the federal government) saw increases, many were hit hard, including construction, which had a drop of 52,000 job openings.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted job openings would be at 5.96 million, slightly off November’s upwardly revised pace. Job openings were at a seven-month low in December. More than three million people quit their job in December, which is the highest rate since 2001. “Survey measures of confidence in the job market suggest the quit rate should break out higher in 2018,” said a release from Wells Fargo Securities.

The job opening rate (the number of openings divided by the sum of employment and job openings multiplied by 100) was 3.8%, down a 10th of a percent from November, but up a 10th of a percent from December 2016. The construction job opening rate fell to 2.2% from 2.9%, yet it is still ahead of December 2016 by 20 basis points.

Construction hires were also down in December and behind data from a year ago. Total separations, including quits and layoffs, declined by roughly 30,000 in December. Overall, hires and total separations were little changed from November to December.

-Michael Miller, associate editor

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