PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Recent Trends on Job Openings and Hires

By at 7 November, 2019, 9:59 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

The September 2019 “Job Openings” report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed to a continued recent decline in job openings.

As noted by the BLS: “On the last business day of September, the job openings level edged down to 7.0 million (-277,000). The job openings rate was 4.4 percent. The number of job openings edged down for total private (-262,000) and was little changed for government.”

(The job openings rates equals job openings divided by total employment plus job openings.)

Meanwhile, it also was noted, “The number of hires was little changed at 5.9 million in September and the hires rate was unchanged at 3.9 percent. The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government.”

One’s takeaway from the job openings report depends, in part, on the selected historical time horizon. Looking at the full data set going back to the end of 2000, the story has been positive over the past decade – but that has been particularly the case arguably since early 2017. (See the following charts on job openings and the rate of job openings.)

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

However, a shorter time horizon leads one to see a decline in job openings since that start of this year. (again, see the following two charts.)

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

But one cannot look at job openings without also examining hiring. Over the long haul, the picture on hiring is less robust than job openings. The level registered in early 2018, for example, was roughly the same point as in mid-2006. However, the move up in hiring since early 2018 has been positive. But the hires rate (i.e., hires divided by total employment) has failed to reach pre-recession levels, and has basically moved in a sideways range since mid-2017.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

In the end, job openings and hiring moved up for the most past starting in early 2017, but these measures of the job market have either declined or stagnated in 2019.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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