U.S. Job Openings Ease From Near-Record While Layoffs Decline

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. job openings pulled back in February from a near-record in the previous month, as employers had some success in filling vacancies and became more reluctant to dismiss workers, Labor Department data showed Friday.

Highlights of Job Openings (February)

  • Number of positions waiting to be filled decreased by 176k to 6.052m (est. 6.02m) from a downwardly revised 6.228m in Jan. (prev 6.312m): Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey or JOLTS
  • Layoffs declined to 1.647m, lowest since Oct. 2016, from 1.784m
  • Private hiring fell to 5.161m from 5.236m
  • 3.21m Americans quit their jobs, up from 3.191m in Jan.; quits rate held at 2.2%

Key Takeaways

The decline in February job postings may help explain jobs data for the month showing a 326,000 gain in nonfarm payrolls, the biggest gain since 2015, suggesting employers found qualified workers. The JOLTS report adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, layoffs and the pace of hiring.

The drop in openings reflected declines in accommodation and food services, as well as construction; trade, transportation and utilities; and professional and business services. Vacancies increased in finance and insurance; health care and social assistance; and state and local government.

The Labor Department’s March employment report, release last week, showed that despite a weaker pace of hiring, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent, the lowest since 2000.

Other Details

  • There were 1.1 unemployed people vying for every opening in February, compared with 1.9 people when the recession began at the end of 2007
  • Job openings fell in Midwest, West; little changed in Northeast, South
  • In the 12 months through February, the economy created a net 2.3 million jobs, representing 65.6 million hires and 63.3 million separations

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