"January Job Opening JOLTS Data Sets a January Record

Same Story for Quits, Second Best January for Hires

The February Jobs Report was released last Friday. The data  that was released for the JOLTS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey today was for January.  The January Jobs Report Articles that were published include:

The net takeaway was that we were doing better this past January than virtually any other January. Even after substantial revisions to the Current Employment Statistics data we managed to add nearly 300,000 private sector workers, seasonally adjusted. It would be expected that the January JOLTS data may also be good.

The JOLTS data underwent major revisions, back to December 2002. The JOLTS data was first published during January 2002. Every piece of data was revised, not just the Trade, Transportation and Utilities (TTU) data and the Professional Business Services (PBS) data. Every month, every category was revised. The January JOLTS data was revised back to 2002 with the following statement:

  • "Job openings, hires, and separations have been revised to incorporate the annual updates to the Current Employment Statistics employment estimates and the JOLTS seasonal adjustment factors. Additionally, a new methodology for item imputation has been implemented. See the revision section at the end of this release for more information."
  • Tables B, C, D, E, F, and G detailed the revisions to the 2018 seasonally adjusted data (pp. 6-9)
  • Tables 13-19 compare the data from 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 for the categories covered in the other tables.

The revisions were not isolated. They were widespread.

We set January Records for Job Openings and Quits. We had the second most January Hires ever. This is significant. We have 1 million more non-farm payroll job openings this January than we had last January. The question is where are those jobs openings? The most job openings, by sector, are in Educations and Health Services (EHS,) Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (TTU,) Professional Business Services (PBS,) and Leisure and Hospitality (L/H.) The most Job Openings are in the Southern Region, followed by the Midwest and West, and finally the North East.

We saw a similar pattern with the Quits data. The sectors with the highest levels of quits were PBS, TTU, L/H, and EHS.  The most quits were in the South, followed by the West, the Midwest, and the Northeast.

We saw a similar pattern with hiring. The sectors that did the most hiring  were PBS, TTU, L/H, and EHS. Hiring was strongest in the South, followed by the Midwest, the West, and the Northeast.

We also saw a similar pattern with the Total Separations data.  TTU had the most separations, followed by PBS, L/H, and EHS.  The most total separations were in the South, the Midwest, the West, and the Northeast.

Which sectors had the lowest wages last month, during January? Care to hazard a guess?  /The sectors with the lowest hourly rates were L/H, Other Services (OS,) EHS and TTU.  Could the reason why there are so many people quitting these jobs may be the low wages they receive. The reason why there are so many job openings in these sectors is because they have the lowest wages. The reason why they have the most workers hired is because they have high turnover due to low wages.

We had 7.140 Million Unemployed and 7.484 Million Job Openings during January. Apples and Oranges. The Job Opening Data is comparable to, not identical to, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) worker data. The Unemployment Level, the U-3, comes from the Current population Survey (CPS) Jobs and unemployment data. The people who attempt to compare the U-3 unemployment level with the job openings data are misguided. All you have to do is look at the February CES data and the February CPS data and you will find that the non-seasonally adjusted CPS jobs level grew by 1.2 million total jobs and the headline seasonally adjusted CES data only grew by 20,000 workers.

We had 2.089 million continuing unemployment claims during the same period that we had 7.140 million unemployed workers. If you want to compare apples to pomegranates, go right ahead.  The weekly claims data is broken down by state, the JOLTS data is not. The U-3 unemployment level is broken down by state. The JOLTS data is not.

This JOLTS data was good. It was record setting for the month of January. The data was massively revised.  There is a strong correlation between wages and job openings, wages and quits, and wages and hiring. You shouldn't compare apples, oranges, and pomegranates.

It's the Economy.

 Reclaiming Common Sense