Economy Watch: Job Openings Stable in October

For the 12 months ending in October, there were more hires than separations, yielding a net employment gain of 2.5 million, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The number of job openings nationwide, which is one measure of the strength of the economy, hasn’t changed much recently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Wednesday that there were 5.5 million openings on the last business day of October, roughly the same as the month before.

Job openings increased in health care and social assistance (up 139,000). By contrast, job openings dropped in professional and business services (down 187,000), federal government (down 13,000), and mining and logging (down 8,000).

Compared with last month, hires and separations were also little changed at 5.1 million and 4.9 million, respectively. The number of quits was also about the same, coming in at 3 million in October. Quits are another measurement of the health of the employment market, with a high number of quits meaning that employees are more optimistic about seeking new employment, and thus more willing to quit their current jobs.

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle, noted the BLS. Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining.

On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising. For the 12 months ending in October, hires totaled 62.6 million and separations totaled 60.1 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.5 million, though those totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.