The number of job openings in July was 3.2 million, little changed from June. Although the number of job openings remained below the 4.4 million openings when the recession began in December 2007, the level in July was 1.1 million openings higher than in July 2009 (the most recent trough). The number of job openings increased over the month for manufacturing and for arts, entertainment, and recreation.
The number of job openings in July (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the year for total nonfarm and total private. Eight industries experienced an increase over the year in the number of job openings; the number of job openings decreased for federal government. The number of job openings rose in the Midwest, South, and West.
In July, the hires rate was little changed at 3.0 percent for total nonfarm. The hires rate was also essentially unchanged for all industries and regions. The number of hires in July was 4.0 million, up from 3.6 million in October 2009 (the most recent trough) but below the 5.0 million hires recorded when the recession began in December 2007.
Over the past 12 months, the hires rate (not seasonally adjusted) fell for federal government. The hires rate was essentially unchanged for all other industries and regions.
The total separations figure includes voluntary quits, involuntary layoffs and discharges, and other separations, including retirements. Total separations is also referred to as turnover.
The seasonally adjusted total separations rate was unchanged in July for total nonfarm (3.0 percent) and government (1.4 percent) and essentially unchanged for total private (3.3 percent). Over the year, the total separations rate (not seasonally adjusted) was essentially unchanged for total nonfarm and total private but decreased for government.
The quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs. In July, the quits rate was essentially unchanged for total nonfarm (1.5 percent), total private (1.7 percent), and government (0.6 percent). The number of quits rose from 1.5 million in January 2010 (the most recent trough) to 2.0 million in July although it remained below the 2.8 million recorded when the recession began in December 2007.
The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) in July 2011 increased from 12 months earlier for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Arts, entertainment, and recreation and state and local government experienced an increase in the number of quits over the year, while federal government experienced a decline. In the regions, the number of quits rose in the Midwest and West.
The layoffs and discharges component of total separations is seasonally adjusted only at the total nonfarm, total private, and government levels. The layoffs and discharges rate was little changed in July for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The number of layoffs and discharges for total nonfarm was 1.7 million in July, up slightly from the recent low point of 1.5 million in January 2011, but still below the peak of 2.5 million in February 2009.
The layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) declined over the 12 months ending in July for total nonfarm and government. The level decreased over the year for health care and social assistance. The level decreased over the year for federal government, returning to a more typical level after a large number of layoffs in July 2010 of temporary Census workers. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in all four regions over the year.
The other separations series is not seasonally adjusted. In July, there were 363,000 other separations for total nonfarm, 266,000 for total private, and 97,000 for government. Compared to July 2010, the number of other separations was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government.
Relative Contributions to Separations
The total separations level is influenced by the relative contribution of its three components -quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The percentage of total separations attributable to the individual components has varied over time at the total nonfarm level, but for the majority of the months since the series began in December 2000, the proportion of quits has exceeded the proportion of layoffs and discharges. Other separations is historically a very small portion of total separations; it has rarely been above 10 percent of total separations.
The proportions of quits and layoffs and discharges were last equal in November 2010. Since then, the proportion of quits has trended upward, again exceeding the proportion of layoffs and discharges. In July, the proportion of quits for total nonfarm was 50 percent and the proportion of layoffs and discharges was 43 percent. For total private quits, the proportion was 50 percent while the total private layoffs and discharges proportion was 44 percent. For government, the proportions were 43 percent quits and 37 percent layoffs and discharges.
Net Change in Employment
Over the 12 months ending in July 2011, hires totaled 47.8 million and separations totaled 46.6 million, yielding a net employment gain of 1.1 million based on not seasonally adjusted data. These figures include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year. Nearly half of the hires and nearly half of the separations during these 12 months occurred in three industries: retail trade; professional and business services; and accommodation and food services. The large share of total hires and separations accounted for by these three industries reflects the size of the industries as well as their relatively high hires and separations rates.