January 14, 2009
The job openings rate declined to 2.0 percent in November, matching the series low set in September 2003. The hires rate fell sharply in November to a series low of 2.6 percent. The total separations rate was little changed in November, but the quits rate declined further to 1.4 percent.
The number of job openings declined in November 2008, continuing the downward trend begun over a year ago. At 2.8 million in November, openings were down 1.2 million, or 30 percent, from a year ago. The job openings rate fell at the total nonfarm level, and in manufacturing, accommodation and food services, and government; the rate increased significantly in November only in retail trade.
Hires fell sharply in November to 3.5 million, down 607,000 from October and 1.1 million from a year ago. The overall hires rate dropped to 2.6 percent in November due to declines in the rates for manufacturing; trade, transportation, and utilities; leisure and hospitality; and government.
The total separations, or turnover, rate was essentially unchanged in November from October and from a year ago. The quits rate can serve as a barometer of workers' ability to change jobs. The quits rate fell in November to a new series low of 1.4 percent; the prior low was 1.5 percent, occurring in several months in 2003.
These data come from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. To learn more, see "Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary: November 2008" (PDF) (HTML), news release USDL 09-31. These data are seasonally adjusted. Data for the most recent month are preliminary.