Economy Watch: BLS Reports Job Turnover Trends; U.S., India Reach Trade Accord

Job openings hit 4.7 million, signaling expansion; U.S.-India trade deal on farm production could boost the global economy by $1 trillion.

There were 4.7 million job openings on the last business day of September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) on Thursday. That compares with 4.8 million in August, and 4.6 million in July. The September numbers are the second-highest level since the BLS created this metric in 2000, indicating that employers want to hire more briskly these days.

The BLS also reported that there were 4.8 million total separations in September, up from 4.5 million in August. By the BLS’ reckoning, separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations are also referred to as turnover.

Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee, meaning that the quits rate is an indirect measure of the healthof the employment market, as an indication of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Quits came in at 2.8 million in September, up from 2.5 million in August and the highest level of quits since April 2008, BLS said.

US, India Trade Deal Could Benefit Global Economy by $1T

The United States and India have resolved a dispute over the Indian government’s subsidizing of farm production, according to a communiqué by the two nations from Burma, where President Obama and Prime Minister Modi are meeting. The news concerns the world’s economy because the disagreement had been the major stumbling block to the implementation of a World Trade Organization agreement to reduce customs regulatory burdens worldwide.

According to the WTO, the multinational trade pact—the Trade Facilitation Agreement, struck last year in Bali but not finalized because of the impasse–could increase total world trade to $23 trillion from its current estimate of $22 trillion. “We now look forward to working with all WTO members… to reach a consensus that enables full implementation of all elements of the landmark Bali Package, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman noted in a statement on Thursday.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that initial unemployment claims came in at 290,000 for the week ending November 8, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 285,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week.

Wall Street edged upward on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 40.59 points, or 0.23 percent. The S&P 500 advanced 0.05 percent and the Nasdaq was up 0.11 percent.