Job Openings Remain Historically High

Employers encouraged to invest in recruitment, retention strategies

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer March 22, 2016

Job openings rose to 5.5 million in January 2016, from a downwardly revised 5.3 million the month before, according to the monthly report on job openings and labor turnover prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The report showed that 2.8 million people quit their jobs in January, while hires decreased from nearly 5.4 million in December 2015 to 5 million in January.

The wholesale trade (+74,000) and construction (+61,000) industries reported some of the highest job openings in January, while new jobs decreased in educational services (-40,000).

“Overall, a good report,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management. “As always, the quits rate is an important number for HR professionals to follow because when it goes up, it can indicate that more employees are looking for new opportunities.”

Quits fell in construction (-56,000); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-34,000); professional and business services (-80,000); and health care and social assistance (-49,000).

The historically high level of open jobs and low 4.9 percent unemployment rate requires that employers be “willing to invest in smart recruitment and retention tactics to attract top talent from a shallow pool of qualified job applicants,” said Lauren Griffin, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing USA, a recruitment and staffing firm headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla.

Griffin said that employers should invest in sourcing on social media and pipelining, employee referral programs, and digital advertising to support recruitment. “Meanwhile, on the retention side, employers should seriously consider investing more heavily in professional development opportunities, especially when looking to retain less experienced employees.”

Adecco Staffing’s annual Way to Work Generational Survey found that 36 percent of Millennials and Generation Z employees cite opportunity for growth as a critical factor in choosing a job.

“Although there is more work to be done, we are definitely starting to see employers make some of these changes in recruitment and retention strategies,” Griffin said. “This is likely part of why we see that quit rates have fallen over the past few weeks.”

Total separations for the month of January—including quits, layoffs and discharges—edged down 225,000 from December 2015 to 4.9 million. Layoffs and discharges remained steady at 1.6 million. In addition, there were 437,000 separations reported due to retirement, death and disability, and company transfers.

The final numbers for 2015 “showed generally positive trends,” Schramm said. In 2015, annual levels for hires (61.7 million) and quits (33.4 million) rose for the sixth consecutive year. The annual level for total separations rose for the fifth consecutive year, reaching 58.9 million in 2015, while layoffs and discharges edged up in 2015 for the second year, hitting 20.9 million.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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