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May 2009, Vol. 132, No. 5
Job openings and hires decline in 2008
Job openings and hires declined during 2008. The number of job openings, a stock measure referenced to the last day of the month, dropped from 4.4 million, seasonally adjusted, in December 2007 to 3.2 million in December 2008 after trending down steadily over the year. Hires, which is a measure of worker flows, also trended down steadily over the year. Hires dropped from 5.1 million, seasonally adjusted, in December 2007 to a low of 4.2 million in November 2008 and then increased to 4.5 million in December 2008. Job openings and hires also declined in 2007.1
The total separations level which was 5.0 million, seasonally adjusted, in December 2007, fluctuated over the course of the year reaching a high of 5.2 million in April 2008 and returned to 5.0 million in December 2008. The level of layoffs and discharges increased from 1.8 million in December 2007 to 2.4 million in December 2008 and the level of quits dropped from 2.9 million in December 2007 to 2.1 million in December 2008.
In December 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the current recession had begun in December 2007.2 The downward trend in job openings, hires, and quits, and the upward trend in layoffs and discharges are consistent with recessionary trends in other economic statistics. Recessionary trends are evident in increasing unemployment and declining employment levels. For example, the unemployment rate, 4.9 percent in December 2007, climbed to 7.2 by of December 2008.3 Also, since December 2007, nonfarm employment dropped from 138 million to 135 million for the month of December 2008, a net employment loss of approximately 3 million over the course of 2008.4 Chart 1 shows JOLTS total private job openings compared to CES total private employment levels since December 2000. The job openings leveled off and began to fall prior to December 2007 when employment levels began to fall.
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1 Zhi Boon, “Job openings, hires, and turnover decrease in 2007,” Monthly Labor Review (May 2008): 14-23.
2National Bureau of Economic Research. Determination of the December 2007 Peak in Economic Activity, December 1, 2008. http://www.nber.org/cycles/dec2008.html (visited Dec. 11, 2008).
3U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on the unemployment rates are available from Current Population Survey at http://stats.bls.gov/cps/#news (visited Mar. 18, 2009).
4U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on the annual employment levels are available from the Current Employment Statistics at http://stats.bls.gov/ces/home.htm (visited Mar. 18, 2009).
Job Openings and Labor Turnover
Job openings, hires, and turnover decrease in 2007—May 2008.
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