U.S. Employment Trends

U.S. December 2018 Job Openings Reach a Series High (7.3 Million); Hires and Separations Little Changed

Job openings reach a series high of 7.3 million on the last business day of December. Hires and separations were little changed at 5.9 million and 5.5 million, respectively.
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U.S. December 2018 Job Openings Reach a Series High (7.3 Million); Hires and Separations Little Changed

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

JOB OPENINGS AND LABOR TURNOVER – DECEMBER 2018

The number of job openings reached a series high of 7.3 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 5.9 million and 5.5 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at
2.3 percent and the layoffs and discharges rate was little changed at 1.1 percent. 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, the job openings level reached a series high of 7.3 million. The
job openings rate was 4.7 percent. The number of job openings edged up for total private (+198,000) and
was little changed for government. Job openings increased in a number of industries, with the largest
increases in construction (+88,000), accommodation and food services (+84,000), and health care and
social assistance (+79,000). The job openings level decreased in a number of industries, with the largest
decreases in nondurable goods manufacturing (-37,000), federal government (-32,000), and real estate
and rental and leasing (-31,000). Job openings was little changed in all four regions. (See table 1.)

Hires

The number of hires was little changed at 5.9 million in December. The hires rate was 3.9 percent. The
hires level was little changed for total private and for government. Hires increased in retail trade
(+126,000), educational services (+19,000), and mining and logging (+9,000). Hires decreased in
information (-22,000) and in federal government (-10,000). The number of hires increased in the
Midwest region. (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 5.5 million in December. The total separations
rate was 3.7 percent. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and for
government. Total separations increased in federal government (+8,000). The number of total
separations was little changed in all four regions. (See table 3.)

The number of quits was little changed in December at 3.5 million. The quits rate was 2.3 percent. The
quits level was little changed for total private but decreased for government (-18,000). Quits increased in
professional and business services (+60,000) and in health care and social assistance (+49,000). Quits
decreased in a number of industries, with the largest decrease in other services (-42,000). The number of
quits was little changed in all four regions. (See table 4.)

The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in December at 1.7 million. The layoffs and
discharges rate was 1.1 percent. The layoffs and discharges level was little changed for total private and
for government. Layoffs and discharges increased in retail trade (+56,000) and in federal government
(+4,000). The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in all four regions. (See table 5.)

The number of other separations edged up (+50,000) in December. The other separations level also
edged up for total private (+47,000) and was little changed for government. Other separations increased
in professional and business services (+23,000), health care and social assistance (+21,000), and other
services (+15,000). Other separations decreased in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-4,000). The
number of other separations increased in the Midwest region. (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 68.5 million
and separations totaled 65.9 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.6 million. These totals
include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.



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