Article

May 2013

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

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Table 5. Annual separations, not seasonally adjusted, 2001–2012
YearNumber (thousands)Percent change from previous yearAnnual rate (percent)

2001

64,765(1)49.1

2002

59,190–8.645.4

2003

56,487–4.643.5

2004

58,3403.344.4

2005

60,7334.145.4

2006

61,5651.445.2

2007

61,162–.744.4

2008

58,627–4.142.9

2009

51,532–12.139.4

2010

47,646–7.536.7

2011

47,626.036.2

2012

49,6764.337.1

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.

Table 6. Annual number of separations(1) and annual rate of separations,(2) by industry, not seasonally adjusted, 2011 and 2012
IndustryNumber (thousands)Rate (percent)
20112012ChangePercent change20112012ChangePercent change

Total

47,62649,6762,0504.336.237.10.92.5

Total private

44,17346,1521,9794.540.441.3.92.2

Mining and logging                

237354.011749.430.141.611.538.2

Construction                        

3,9063,808–98–2.570.667.5–3.1–4.4

Manufacturing                      

2,8202,808–12–.424.023.6–.4–1.7

Durable goods                      

1,5381,6591217.921.122.21.15.2

Nondurable goods                    

1,2831,146–137–10.728.825.7–3.1–10.8

Trade, transportation, and utilities          

9,4369,9244885.237.638.91.33.5

Wholesale trade                    

1,3651,429644.724.625.2.62.4

Retail trade                        

6,4766,7572814.344.245.41.22.7

Transportation, warehousing, and utilities  

1,5981,7391418.832.935.02.16.4

Information                        

727749223.027.228.0.82.9

Financial activities                    

1,8152,04322812.623.626.22.611.0

Finance and insurance              

1,1471,32217515.319.922.72.814.1

Real estate and rental and leasing        

669721527.834.736.92.26.3

Professional and business services        

9,61610,0043884.055.555.8.3.5

Education and health services                

5,2695,5783095.926.527.51.03.8

Educational services                

810841313.824.925.1.2.8

Health care and social assistance        

4,4594,7402816.326.827.91.14.1

Leisure and hospitality                    

8,1178,6164996.160.862.71.93.1

Arts, entertainment, and recreation        

1,4721,450–22–1.576.773.8–2.9–3.8

Accommodations and food services      

6,6437,1635207.858.160.82.74.6

Other services                        

2,2282,268401.841.641.7.1.2

Government                              

3,4533,525722.115.616.1.53.2

Federal                          

370389195.112.913.8.97.0

State and local                          

3,0833,135521.716.016.4.42.5

Notes:

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

After the end of the recession, the number of separations trended downward, from 4.2 million in June 2009 to a trough of 3.7 million in April 2011. Since then, the number of separations has increased steadily, reaching 4.1 million by the end of 2012. The main driver of the increase was a rise in the number of quits. (See chart 8.) The number of separations has yet to reach the level of 5.0 million at which it stood at the beginning of the recession, in December 2007.

1. Quits. The total number of people quitting their jobs, or, simply, number of quits, during the year has increased for the past 3 years. The annual number of quits increased 7.8 percent from 2011 to 2012, rising from 23.3 million to 25.1 million. By way of comparison, it had increased 6.1 percent from 2010 to 2011. The following tabulation gives level, percent change, and rate statistics (not seasonally adjusted) on quits over the 2-year span:

YearNumber of quits (thousands)Percent change from previous yearRate of quits (percent)   
201021,9784.516.9   
201123,3136.117.7   
201225,1327.818.8   


On a quarterly basis, the number of quits rose 4.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, fell 2.5 percent in the second quarter and another 2.7 percent in the third quarter, and grew 2.2 percent in the final quarter. The number of quits stood at its 2012 low of 2.0 million in January and reached a yearly high of 2.2 million in March.

Since the end of the recession, the number of quits has been trending upward, from 1.7 million in June 2009 to 2.1 million in December 2012. Still, it has yet to reach its level of 2.9 million at the beginning of the recession, in December 2007.

Table 7 shows the annual number of quits and the annual rate of quits, by industry, for 2011 and 2012. The annual rate of total nonfarm quits increased from 17.7 percent in 2011 to 18.8 percent in 2012. The annual quits rate declined in only two industries: nondurable goods manufacturing, where it fell by 5.1 percent, from 13.7 percent in 2011 to 13.0 percent in 2012; and arts, entertainment, and recreation, in which it dropped by 0.7 percent, from 26.7 percent in 2011 to 26.5 percent in 2012. In 2012, the industries with the largest growth in annual quits rates were mining and logging, where the rate rose 32. 9 percent, from 17.3 percent in 2011 to 23.0 percent in 2012, and the federal government, which saw an increase of 20.5 percent, from 3.9 percent in 2011 to 4.7 percent in 2012.

Table 7. Annual number of quits(1) and annual rate of quits,(2) by industry, not seasonally adjusted, 2011 and 2012
IndustryNumber (thousands)Rate (percent)
20112012ChangePercent change20112012ChangePercent change

Total

23,31325,1321,8197.817.718.81.16.2

Total private

21,90523,5891,6847.720.021.11.15.5

Mining and logging                

136196.06044.117.323.05.732.9

Construction                        

924946222.416.716.8.1.6

Manufacturing                      

1,2471,284373.010.610.8.21.9

Durable goods                      

6377066910.88.89.5.78.0

Nondurable goods                    

612579–33–5.413.713.0–.7–5.1

Trade, transportation, and utilities          

5,1705,5303607.020.621.71.15.3

Wholesale trade                    

6146887412.111.112.11.09.0

Retail trade                        

3,8263,9841584.126.126.8.72.7

Transportation, warehousing, and utilities  

72985512617.315.017.22.214.7

Information                        

3894314210.814.516.11.611.0

Financial activities                    

9671,0659810.112.613.71.18.7

Finance and insurance              

644694507.811.211.9.76.3

Real estate and rental and leasing        

3253714614.216.919.02.112.4

Professional and business services        

4,4214,6222014.525.525.8.31.2

Education and health services                

2,9103,20329310.114.615.81.28.2

Educational services                

373395225.911.511.8.32.6

Health care and social assistance        

2,5362,80827210.715.216.51.38.6

Leisure and hospitality                    

4,7225,19647410.035.437.82.46.8

Arts, entertainment, and recreation        

51352181.626.726.5–.2–.7

Accommodations and food services      

4,2094,67846911.136.839.72.97.9

Other services                        

1,0131,11410110.018.920.51.68.5

Government                              

1,4061,5431379.76.47.0.69.4

Federal                          

1111312018.03.94.7.820.5

State and local                          

1,2951,4131189.16.77.4.710.4

Notes:

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

As the following tabulation shows, although the rate of quits increased in all U.S. geographic regions from 2011 to 2012, it grew the most in the South, rising from 19.7 percent in 2011 to 21.8 percent in 2012, and the least in the Midwest, edging up from 18.2 percent in 2011 to 18.4 percent in 2012:
QuitsNortheastSouthMidwestWest  
Number (thousands):      
20113,3499,3965,4475,121  
20123,66910,5885,5795,296  
Change, 2011–20123201,192132175  
Percent change, 2011–20129.612.72.43.4  
Rate (percent):      
201113.419.718.217.7  
201214.521.818.418.0  
Change, 2011–20121.12.1.2.3  
Percent change, 2011–20128.210.71.11.7  

Because the quits rate generally measures workers’ willingness or ability to leave a job, it usually trends similarly to the Consumer Confidence Index®.12 The quits rate tends to rise when workers believe that another job is available and tends to fall when they believe that jobs are scarce. In 2012, both measures trended slightly upward overall. (See chart 12.)
2. Layoffs and discharges. The total number of annual layoffs and discharges exhibited a slight increase of 0.7 percent from 2011 to 2012, edging up from 20.4 million to 20.5 million. By contrast, it had decreased 6.3 percent from 2010 to 2011, falling from 21.8 million to 20.4 million. The following tabulation gives level, percent change, and rate statistics (not seasonally adjusted) on layoffs and discharges over the 2-year span:
YearNumber of layoffs and discharges (thousands)Percent change from previous yearRate of layoffs and discharges (percent)   
201021,773–18.716.8   
201120,401–6.315.5   
201220,546.715.4   


On a quarterly basis, the number of layoffs and discharges was down 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012, up 7.6 percent in the second quarter, down 6.7 percent in the third quarter, and down 3.5 percent in the final quarter. The number of layoffs and discharges reached its 2012 high of 2.0 million in May and fell to its low of 1.5 million in July. The July estimate was an all-time series low for seasonally adjusted layoffs and discharges.

From the end of the recession until the first quarter of 2011, the number of layoffs and discharges trended downward, from 2.1 million in June 2009 to 1.6 million in April 2011. Since then, it has been stabilizing. By December 2012, layoffs and discharges measured 1.5 million. During the recession, the number of layoffs and discharges rose rapidly, but since then it has returned to its previous level and then some. (See chart 8.)

Notes

12 See “Consumer Confidence Survey®: the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® improves in April” (The Conference Board, Apr. 30, 2013), http://www.conference-board.org/data/consumerconfidence.cfm. The index measures consumers’ attitudes about the economy, as indicated by their levels of spending and saving.

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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.