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The Bureau of Labor Statistics began developing the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) program in 1998 in order to assess the unmet demand for labor in the U.S. labor market. The collection, estimation, and analysis of data began in 2000. JOLTS data were first released to the public in 2002, with a monthly series dating back to December 2000. In 2004, the JOLTS program converted from an experimental series to an official Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) series. On March 14, 2006, JOLTS published the first annual hires and separations series.
Subsequent to these milestones, JOLTS has continued to expand the number of published industry sectors. Improvements and updates to the collection and estimation methodologies also continues. In April 2010, web collection was implemented for reporting establishments. Experimental size class estimates were developed and released for the first time in 2010.First, experimental establishment size class estimates were made available to the public. In 2017, experimental firm size estimates were subsequently produced in two releases.
Prior to the inception of the JOLTS program, the CES conducted a federal–state cooperative BLS program called the Labor Turnover Survey (LTS) that published turnover data from 1959 to 1981. Questions on job vacancies were added to the LTS in 1969. BLS produced vacancy rates from 1969 through 1973 for nine selected manufacturing industries and selected states and metropolitan areas.