Job Vacancies Hit 14-Year High

By Roy Maurer Jul 9, 2015
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Job openings in the United States hit another record high in May 2015, signaling strong employment growth for the months ahead, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employers advertised 5.4 million openings in May, up 20,000 from April, and the most openings since the BLS began tracking the figure in December 2000. Openings increased in nondurable goods manufacturing and in state and local government but dipped in health care.

“Here we have another good JOLTS report,” remarked Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management. “There was little change since last month but since that was also a very good month, this is not a bad thing. Over the 12 months ending in May 2015, there was a net employment gain of 2.8 million. The number of hires was also unchanged and the number of separations also showed little change.”

Over the 12 months ending in May 2015, hires totaled 60.2 million and separations totaled 57.4 million.

The number of hires in May held fairly steady at 5 million. Over the 12 months ending in May, the number of federal government hires increased while the number of hires decreased throughout the year in mining and logging.

Total separations for the month—including quits, layoffs and discharges—fell to 4.7 million from 4.9 million in April. There were 1.7 million layoffs and discharges in May, down from 1.8 million the previous month. There were 2.7 million quits in May, unchanged from April.

“As always, HR professionals will be particularly interested in the quits rate and overall separations because when the quits rate goes up, it is a sign that workers are more confident about leaving their jobs and finding new ones,” Schramm said. “In that case, HR professionals would have to be ready to do more to boost retention. While the number of quits in May was unchanged from April, [the rate was] up when looking at year-over-year change. If these positive job openings and employment numbers continue, we will probably start to see more churn in the job market,” she said.

The historically high level of job openings, the year-over-year increases in the quits rate and the net employment gains in the last 12 months show a more positive picture for job seekers, Schramm said. “The other side of that equation of course is that, if these trends continue, employers will need to do more to hold on to their most valued employees.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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