JOLTS – Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey August 2019

Jolene Pilgrim
4 Sep 2019

If you’ve turned on the radio, switched on a television, or scrolled through a news app anytime in the last few weeks you’re probably aware of the U.S. economy’s recent wild swings.  Chances are you’ve also heard or seen terms like “recession”, “yield curve”, “bond market”, and “trade” more times than you can count.  

Even if you don’t have a deep portfolio of investments or aren’t a Wall Street trader, economic performance as a whole can still have a major impact on your ability to land a decent job.  One of the most relevant sets of statistics for anyone currently in the employment market is the monthly JOLTS report. Here we break down where those magical “jobs” numbers come from and how the results could influence your employment search.

What is the JOLTS Report?

Launched in 2000, the JOLTS, or Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, is a monthly report prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The information in the report is based on voluntary reporting by certain U.S. employers.  The data collected from key industries and employers is crunched and used as a base to derive wider national numbers of hirings, firings and total open positions.  The report is released monthly for the time period two months earlier. The most recently released report on August 6th, for example, covers statistics gathered from June of this year.

Breaking Down the Numbers

The August 6th JOLTS report shows little change from the May results. The total number of job openings clocked in at 7.3 million with 5.7 million total monthly hires and 5.5 million separations.  3.4 million of those separations were “quits” or people who chose to voluntarily leave their job while 1.7 million were involuntary firings or layoffs. When comparing total job openings with the number of unemployed individuals there are around 1.4 million more jobs than people currently on the market which is slightly fewer than during the previously tracked month of May.

What Does This All Mean?

While the gap between open jobs and those looking for work is closing, the facts still point to an employee market in that companies will have to work harder to attract individuals given the short supply of talent.  While this may not ring true for every field, it’s a good gauge of hiring prospects and your ability to potentially negotiate for a higher salary. This is further enforced by the healthy number of workers willingly leaving their jobs since this is a strong indicator that employees feel like they have other, better prospects.  While total job openings didn’t quite meet analysts expectations, the consistency with the previous month speaks to the stability of the current job market and your ability to find work, if you’re looking.

If you’re looking for a specific industry to target, the JOLTS report also has some useful tidbits in that area.  Private versus government jobs didn’t see much of a change, but openings in real estate and rental leasing along with state and local government education were on the rise.  Hirings also ticked up in foodservice, indicating restaurants may be in need of talent.  While this data may be useful to your immediate employment prospects, it also provides insight into larger trends in the economy.  An increase of companies interested in hiring realtors may indicate that the housing market is about to boom while the strong foodservice showing is a good sign that people are dining out and spending money.

Hirings and Firings Bottom Line

If you enjoyed our breakdown of the employment prognosticating, be sure to tune back next month when the July report is released on September 10th.  In the meantime, if you’re looking to add to these numbers by leaving your current job, be sure to check out the Simply Hired blogs for tips on making a graceful exit.

Jolene Pilgrim