JOLTS - For Every Job There Were 3.4 Unempoyed in December 2012

The BLS December JOLTS report, or Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows there are 3.4 official unemployed per job opening.  Actual hires dropped 4.8% to 4.194 million.  Real hiring has only increased 14% from June 2009.  Job openings also declined by 4.6% to 3.617 million and are still, five years later, below pre-recession levels of 4.7 million.  Job openings have increased 65% from July 2009. 

There were 1.8 official unemployed persons per job opening at the start of the recession, December 2007.  Below is the graph of the official unemployed per job opening.  The official unemployed ranked 12.2 million in December 2012.


job openings per official unemployed December 2012


If one takes the official broader definition of unemployment, or U-6, the ratio becomes 6.3* unemployed people per each job opening.  The December U-6 unemployment rate was 14.4%.  Below is the graph of number of unemployed, using the broader U-6 unemployment definition, per job opening.


u6 jolts job openings per alternative unemployment rate November 2012


We have no idea the quality of these job openings as a whole, as reported by JOLTS, or the ratio of part-time openings to full-time.  The rates below mean the number of openings, hires, fires percentage of the total employment.  Openings are added to the total employment for it's ratio.  Openings, hires and separations all dropped by 0.2 percentage points from November.

  • openings rate:   2.6%
  • hires rate:  3.1%
  • separations rate:   3.0%

    • fires & layoffs rate:   1.2%
    • quits rate:  1.6%
    • other rate:  0.3%

Graphed below are raw job openings.  Job openings are still below the 4.7 to 4.3 million levels of 2007.


job openings


Since the July 2009 trough, actual hires per month have only increased 14%.  This is simply terrible and the most important indicator for employers are clearly refusing to increase hiring, across the board and thus not recover from our jobs crisis.




Below are total job separations, 4.069 million.  The term separation means you're out of a job through a firing, layoff, quitting or retirement.


jolts separations


Layoffs and firings were 1.567 million for December, and for the private sector had no change.  Below is a graph of just layoffs and firings.


jolts separations


Graphed below are openings separations and hires levels, so we can compare the types of labor flows.  The flat line hires is the problem, beyond not enough job openings for the unemployed.  There is simply not enough hiring going on to get people back to work.


jolts separations


Our monotone JOLTS report looks like employment musical chairs. We have an 1.8 million overall yearly net job gain and this is a 100,000 decline from what was reported last month..

Over the 12 months ending in December 2012, hires totaled 51.8 million and separations totaled 50.0 million,yielding a net employment gain of 1.8 million.

Graphed below are people who quit their jobs minus those who were fired and laid off.  The lower the bar on the below graph, the worse labor conditions are.  The number of quits were 2.157 million for December, not much of an improvement from July 2009's 1.8 million quits.  People quit their current jobs often to obtain better ones.  People feeling free enough to leave their current position also hasn't changed much for the year.  Additionally quit statistics are still way below pre-recession levels of 2.8 million.  People are clearly not voluntarily leaving their jobs because the job market is so bad, even though the jobs slaughter of 2009 where people were laid off and fired in mass is over.



For the JOLTS report, the BLS creates some fairly useful graphs beyond the above and they have oodles of additional information in their databases, broken down by occupational area.  That said, one doesn't know if the openings are quality jobs from the JOLTS statistics.  The St. Louis Federal Reserve also had loads of graphing tools for JOLTS.

The JOLTS takes a random sampling of 16,000 businesses and derives their numbers from that.  The survey also uses the CES, or current employment statistics, not the household survey as their base benchmark, although ratios are coming from the household survey, which gives the tally of unemployed.

The December 2012 unemployment rate was 7.8%. JOLTS includes part-time jobs and does not make a distinction between part-time, full-time openings.  A job opening reported to the survey could literally be take out the trash twice a week and be counted.  This is a shame, it would be nice to know a little more about the quality of these new opportunities.  Here are our past JOLTS overviews, unrevised.

*U-6 is defined as the official unemployed plus people who are in part-time jobs for economic reasons plus the marginally attached.  The marginally attached,M, are officially not part of the civilian labor force, CLF, and also not seasonally adjusted.  The above graph was created by the seasonally adjusted levels of the unemployed, part-time for economic reasons and the marginally attached, raw totals.  Another way to calculate this figure is: \frac{(CLF + M) * U-6} O where O=\text {Job Openings}

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At least 6+/job opening under U-6 - was that mentioned tonight?

I missed the scripted charade where one party stands up every 5 words, claps like seals, and the other party sits there all bitter because their dude isn't in the White House. Because if their guy was in the WH, they could also clap like seals every 5 words. But I'm guessing the conservative 14% unemployment rate, with some (shadowstats - 22.5%) wasn't mentioned by either party's representative for the corporate puppetmasters. Can the unemployed print out these stats and slam them in the face of politicians and business leaders everytime they call the unemployed lazy or unwilling to take jobs on TV? Once again, despite "green shoots" and "welfare-addicted hobos that prefer losing friends, family, and homes" because that's so much fun, there are NOT ENOUGH JOBS, ignoring the quality of crap jobs that do exist here.

I just caught the first half of SOTU

I need to read the transcript but business and politicians are out to flood the U.S. labor market with foreign workers under the great lies that we have a worker shortage or that they stimulate the economy.  Uh, no they do not, when one is doing worker substitution, which is what is going on, in particular with H-1B.

So, I was thrilled with this particular set of lies was given a paragraph or two instead of longer and it sounded like some good ideas for manufacturing and advanced state-private partnership of high tech hubs.

I agree, the entire thing is a political advertisement and should not be given prime time airspace.  

Funny how "worker shortages" never result in wage increases

The lie is dispelled with the simple labor shortage = wage increase. In every single sector they claim there is a "shortage" or "skills gap," you won't find any corresponding wage increase. Truck driver shortage? Sure, ask American truck drivers if their wages/payouts per mile are increasing, better benefits, more training for free. Not happening. But the business press claims the driver shortage so that they can flood American roads with foreign drivers, driving down transportation/driver costs (another consequence of NAFTA + CAFTA). College grads in STEM and every other major aren't seeing wage increases, in fact, as studies posted here and elsewhere, wages are flat or decreasing, benefits are going bye-bye, and people are working for free despite minimum wage laws. Wages and jobs for Americans in tech, manufacturing, etc.? Every sector the press claims a "shortage," immediately just substitute "we need to claim a shortage to import more foreign workers and drive down wages."
Shortage = wage increase, and that's not happening. But why bother with Econ. for Simpletons, facts suck, spin and screwing over Americans is awesome. Facts shouldn't get in the way of payouts and bribes, ooops, "lobbying fees" and "speech fees."

Jefferson used to deliver his State of the Union in writing only because he thought it was too much like a monarch to deliver it; that practice lasted into the 20th Century - I'm all for ending the speech delivery. No need to watch a circus when the media and politicians already receive a copy of the script long before we're subjected to it (or purposely avoid certain channels because it's on).

labor supply and wages

Good point. A true sign of a worker shortage is wages rise. It's Economics 101, the law of supply and demand.

Wages, especially STEM, have not risen and this might make for another good analysis post by occupation.

We're getting bombarded with B.S. on "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" and both parties are doing lobbyists' bidding on this one. They want to flood the U.S. labor market so they can continue to commit labor arbitrage, technology transfer out of the U.S. through people and force workers to bob about the globe in order to have a job. This is just deja vu, same as 2006, 2007 or every year they try to flood the U.S. labor market with foreign workers and U.S. workers, U.S. domestic labor supply be damned.

Outsourced Middle Class

Our esteemed politicians have essentially outsourced the middle class. The low end, high school educated blue collar workers, or whats left of them at least, are in a special protected class called Unions and still making a good living. But the white collar professional types, formerly making nice six figure salaries have been outsourced due to Nafta other new world order multinational agreements. They did everything they were supposed to - got into a good college, studied hard, and graduated with a difficult technical degree. But today its all for not. Engineers with 20 years experience are booted to the curb as their parent companies move work to China or India. I've heard stories through executive search firms of how highly educated and experienced professionals (Masters level and PhDs) simply cant find a job. These folks are in their prime earning years and should be contributing to the growth of the economy. Now they are relegated to working in Starbucks or Boston Market as managers. Where are the politicians fighting for them? Where are the sad news stories about a masters level educated mechanical engineer out of work for 4 years as his firm went global with its R&D department. As I see it, the unemployment jobs numbers are vastly worse than they are being reported by the media, as its now the media's job to clothe their emperor.