Hires, quits and layoffs show mixed progress
Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
Since The Great Recession officially ended in July 2009, indicators of economic recovery have come in fits and starts. Such is the case of today’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The survey reports the number of hires, jobs openings, quits, layoffs and other employment separations in a given month. Today’s release, counting these items on the last day of April, show declines across the board from March but marked progress from the depths of the recession.
The number of job openings fell from 3.7 million in March to 3.4 million in April. This number is still 56 percent higher than the lowest point in July 2009. Layoffs increased slightly but by less than two-tenths of a percent. The number of voluntary quits, a sign that people are more willing to leave their jobs expecting to obtain another, dropped by even less. “I don’t think this represents a reversal. I think we’re on a generally improving trajectory,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
For all the progress, Shierholz is concerned about the how far we have to go to reach pre-recession levels. Despite 4.2 million hires in April, 13 percent higher than the lowest point of June 2009, hires averaged 5.2 million in 2007.
Voluntary quits, standing at 2.1 million in April, are still well-below the December 2007 figure of 2.9 million. “I am worried about the larger context where the improvement is slow and levels are low and people are unable to find jobs,” said Shierholz. Professional and business services contributed the most to hiring in April.
Construction and manufacturing have seen the greatest increase in hiring since the depths of the recession but mostly because there were so many jobs lost in these categories.