The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows the steepest decline ever in job openings.

From Jan to Dec 2019, job openings declined by 1.2 million. 938,000 were in the last two months.

That data is from the the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released this morning.

Job Openings

On the last business day of December, the job openings level fell to 6.4 million (-364,000), and the job openings rate decreased to 4.0 percent. Over the year, the job openings level declined by 14.9 percent. Over the month, the number of job openings decreased for total private (-332,000) and was little changed for government. The largest decreases for job openings were in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-88,000), real estate and rental and leasing (-34,000), and educational services (-34,000).


The number of hires was little changed at 5.9 million in December. The hires rate was little changed at 3.9 percent. The hires level increased in accommodation and food services (+69,000).


In December, the number of total separations was little changed at 5.7 million and the rate was little changed at 3.8 percent. The number of total separations decreased in retail trade (-118,000) but increased in other services (+57,000). Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee.


The number of quits was little changed in December at 3.5 million and the rate was unchanged at 2.3 percent. Quits decreased in retail trade (-111,000) and arts, entertainment, and recreation (-20,000).

Layoffs and Discharges

The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in December at 1.9 million and the rate was unchanged at 1.2 percent. Layoffs and discharges increased in other services (+61,000) and arts, entertainment, and recreation (+47,000). The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in state and local government, excluding education (-15,000) and federal government (-3,000).

Year-Over-Year Changes

What's Going On?

I have alway been sceptical of reported "openings".

I propose that many openings are just to put government pressure on allowing more H-1B visa entrants to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Regardless, the plunge is extraordinary in the last two months and year-over-year.

In the past year, the number of opening year-over-year has gone from +22.0% to -14.9%.

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