Article

May 2013

Job openings continue to grow in 2012, hires and separations less so

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Hires. For the past 3 years, the number of people hired, or number of hires, during the year has increased. The annual number hired rose 4.7 percent, from 49.7 million in 2011 to 52.0 million in 2012. By way of comparison, the annual number hired grew 2.2 percent from 2010 to 2011. (See table 3.) On a quarterly basis, the number of hires was up 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012, up 0.1 percent in the second quarter, down 2.6 percent in the third quarter, and up 0.9 percent in the final quarter. The number of hires reached its 2012 high of 4.5 million in May and fell to a yearly low of 4.2 million in July.
Table 3. Annual number of hires and annual rate of hiring, not seasonally adjusted, 2001–2012 (in thousands)
YearNumber of hiresPercent change from previous yearAnnual hires rate

2001

62,948(1)47.8

2002

58,583–6.944.9

2003

56,451–3.643.4

2004

60,3676.945.9

2005

63,1504.647.2

2006

63,7731.046.9

2007

62,421–2.145.4

2008

55,128–11.740.3

2009

46,357–15.935.4

2010

48,6074.937.4

2011

49,6752.237.8

2012

51,9914.738.9

Notes:

(1) The JOLTS program did not begin until 2001, so there are no data for the previous year.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since the end of the recession, the number of hires has been trending upward, from 3.6 million in June 2009 to 4.2 million in December 2012. The number has yet to rise to the 5.0 million level at which it stood at the beginning of the recession, in December 2007.

1. Hires by industry and region. Table 4 gives the annual number of hires and the annual rate of hiring, by industry, for 2011 and 2012. Most industries experienced an increase in their annual hires rate from 2011 to 2012. The total nonfarm annual hires rate rose from 37.8 percent in 2011 to 38.9 percent in 2012. The industries with the greatest percent decreases in their annual hires rate were educational services, which fell 8.6 percent, from 29.0 percent in 2011 to 26.5 percent in 2012, and nondurable goods, which dropped by 7.4 percent, from 28.4 percent in 2011 to 26.3 percent in 2012. The industries with the greatest increases in their annual hires rate were finance and insurance, which grew by 17.1 percent, from 20.5 percent in 2011 to 24.0 percent in 2012, and financial activities, which rose 14.1 percent, from 24.1 percent in 2011 to 27.5 percent in 2012.

Table 4. Annual number of hires(1) and annual rate of hiring,(2) by industry, not seasonally adjusted, 2011 and 2012
IndustryNumber (thousands)Rate (percent)
20112012ChangePercent change20112012ChangePercent change

Total

49,67551,9912,3164.737.838.91.12.9

Total private

46,55248,4931,9414.242.543.4.92.1

Mining and logging                

335380.04513.442.544.72.25.2

Construction                        

4,0983,900–198–4.874.169.1–5.0–6.7

Manufacturing                      

3,0352,967–68–2.225.924.9–1.0–3.9

Durable goods                      

1,7711,794231.324.424.0–.4–1.6

Nondurable goods                    

1,2631,174–89–7.028.426.3–2.1–7.4

Trade, transportation, and utilities          

9,94610,4475015.039.740.91.23.0

Wholesale trade                    

1,4851,539543.626.827.1.31.1

Retail trade                        

6,7726,9952233.346.247.0.81.7

Transportation, warehousing, and utilities  

1,6901,91222213.134.838.53.710.6

Information                        

732743111.527.327.7.41.5

Financial activities                    

1,8522,14329115.724.127.53.414.1

Finance and insurance              

1,1801,40222218.820.524.03.517.1

Real estate and rental and leasing        

6697397010.534.737.93.29.2

Professional and business services        

10,18110,5824013.958.759.0.3.5

Education and health services                

5,6815,9973165.628.629.5.93.1

Educational services                

941886–55–5.829.026.5–2.5–8.6

Health care and social assistance        

4,7415,1123717.828.530.11.65.6

Leisure and hospitality                    

8,4148,9995857.063.065.52.54.0

Arts, entertainment, and recreation        

1,4451,533886.175.378.02.73.6

Accommodations and food services      

6,9707,4654957.161.063.42.43.9

Other services                        

2,2792,336572.542.543.0.51.2

Government                              

3,1233,50338012.214.116.01.913.5

Federal                          

332353216.311.612.5.97.8

State and local                          

2,7903,14835812.814.516.52.013.8

Notes:

(1) The annual number of hires is the total number of hires during the entire year.
(2) The annual rate of hiring is the number of hires during the entire year, as a percentage of annual average employment.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All U.S. regions experienced increases in their number of hires; however, the Northeast’s annual hires rate in 2012, 33.3 percent, was unchanged from the rate in 2011, and the Midwest’s annual hires rate declined, from 38.5 percent in 2011 to 38.2 percent in 2012. Besides illustrating these changes, the following tabulation shows that the South was the region with the highest percent increase in its annual hires rate between the 2 years, moving from 39.5 percent in 2011 to 42.2 percent in 2012 (see also chart 7):
HiresNortheastSouthMidwestWest  
Number (thousands):      
20118,31718,89911,50510,954  
20128,44320,54311,61311,395  
Change, 2011–20121261,644108441  
Percent change, 2011–20121.58.7.94.0  
Rate (percent):      
201133.339.538.538.0  
201233.342.238.238.8  
Change, 2011–2012.02.7–.3.8  
Percent change, 2011–2012.06.8–.82.1  

2. Hires and job openings. Typically, the average monthly hires rate exceeds the average monthly job openings rate. The reason is that the job openings rate is a stock measure, meaning that it is measured only at a point in time (the last business day of the month) rather than on an accumulating flow basis. In contrast, the hires rate is a flow measure covering every person hired during the month. As expected, in 2012 the total nonfarm average monthly hires rate, 3.2 percent, exceeded the average monthly job openings rate, 2.6 percent. However, in some industries the hires rate did not exceed the job openings rate. (See chart 10.) There may be various reasons for this reversal. For example, employers in these industries may be having difficulty finding workers with the qualifications they want at the wage they are offering. Alternatively, employers could be hesitant about filling a vacancy because they have doubts about the state of the economy.

Another way to gauge potential unmet labor demand in different industries is through the stock-flow vacancy–yield ratio, the ratio of hires to job openings. This measure can provide valuable insight into the labor market over time.11 For example, in December 2012 there were 4,195,000 hires and 3,612,000 job openings, so the vacancy–yield ratio for that month and year was 1.16 (4,195,000/3,612,000).

The vacancy–yield ratios for construction and for arts, entertainment, and recreation often are the most affected by the business cycle. Because of monthly fluctuations in the data, seasonally adjusted quarterly estimates are used. In the first quarter of 2012, construction had 4.04 hires per job opening and arts, entertainment, and recreation had 2.66 hires per job opening. Both ratios decreased by the fourth quarter, to 3.38 and 2.27 hires per job opening, respectively. This trend matches the 2012 total nonfarm trend, which showed a decrease from 1.22 hires per job opening in the first quarter to 1.17 hires per job opening in the final quarter. (See chart 11.)

Separations. In 2012, the number of workers separated from their jobs, or, simply, number of separations, during the year began to increase, after having leveled off the previous year. The annual number of separations rose 4.3 percent, from 47.6 million in 2011 to 49.7 million in 2012. By contrast, in 2011 the annual number of separations held steady at its 2010 level of 47.6 million. (See table 5.) On a quarterly basis, the number of separations was up 2.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012, up 4.7 percent in the second quarter, down 3.8 percent in the third quarter, and down 0.4 percent in the final quarter. The number of separations stood at its 2012 low of 3.9 million in January and reached a yearly high of 4.4 million in May. Table 6 presents the annual number of separations and the annual rate of separations, by industry, for 2011 and 2012.

Notes

11 Regis Barnichon, Michael Elsby, Bart Hobijn, and Ayşegűl Şahin, “Which industries are shifting the Beveridge curve?” Monthly Labor Review, June 2012, pp. 25–37, http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/06/art2full.pdf.

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About the Author

Kendra C. Hathaway
hathaway.kendra@bls.gov

Kendra C. Hathaway is an economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.