Job Openings Soar to Record Highs

By Roy Maurer Sep 15, 2015

The number of available jobs rose to a record high of 5.8 million on the last business day of July 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The job openings rate for July rose to 3.9 percent after measuring 3.6 percent for the prior three months, but the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed hiring has still not recovered to 2007 prerecession levels, as hires edged down from 5.2 million in June to below 5 million in July.

“The latest JOLTS report was quite positive,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Citing corroborating evidence from SHRM’s Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) report findings, Schramm said hiring activity seemed to be particularly strong in some areas of the service sector, including professional and business services (+122,000 job openings), accommodation and food services (+82,000), retail trade (+77,000), and nondurable goods manufacturing (+27,000).

Since July 2014, the number of actual hires in the private-sector has been little changed, but hires have increased in accommodation and food services (+113,000) and in the federal government (+13,000), and decreased by 109,000 in construction.

Over the 12 months ending in July 2015, hires totaled 60.6 million and separations totaled 57.9 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.7 million. “Though we aren’t yet seeing major job churn or an uptick in the quits rate, the 12-month trend shows a net employment gain,” Schramm pointed out. “A continuation of this trend could encourage organizations to focus even more efforts on recruitment and retention.”

Total separations for the month—including quits, layoffs and discharges—fell slightly, from 4.9 million in June to 4.7 million. About 2.7 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in July 2015, a rate that remains at 1.9 percent for the fourth month in a row. Although the number of quits has been increasing overall since the end of the recession, the number has held between 2.7 million and 2.8 million for the past 11 months. There were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges in July, down from 1.8 million the previous month.

“HR professionals are particularly interested in the quits rate as a sign of whether workers are growing more confident about the job market,” Schramm said. “Once again the quits rate held steady, but if job openings continue to increase the quits rate may go up.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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