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Job Openings Dip in April; Hiring in Fastest Pace Since 2008

The number of job openings fell in April for the fourth time in the last five months as the number of people leaving their jobs jumped to the highest level since August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Tuesday in its month ""Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey"":http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/jolts_06112013.pdf (JOLTS).


According to the JOLTS report, the number of persons unemployed for each job opening rose to 3.10, the first increase in that measure since February.

At the same time, the JOLTS data showed hiring in the first four months of the year was up--albeit just 0.2 percent--from the same period in 2012: 17,401,000 compared with 17,368,000. The number of people leaving their jobs in the first four of the year, 16,755,000, was 2.1 percent higher than the same period a year ago, when total separations were 16,410,000. Within that data, though, 8,896,000 people quit their jobs in the first four months this year, up 7.2 percent from 8,302,000 in the first four months of 2012. ""Quits"" are considered a sign that workers are confident of their ability to find new jobs.

The number of ""layoffs and discharges"" fell 33,000 in April to 1,653,000 and year-to-date was down 427,000 from the first four months of 2012.

Hiring is on pace to top 52 million for the full year for the first time since 2008.

The slight increase in the number of unemployed per job opening is a mixed signal, sometimes suggesting out-of-work individuals have re-entered the labor market and meet the definitional test for ""unemployed,” which includes ""looking-for-work."" However, the ratio rose in April because job openings fell.

The number of unemployed per job opening fell sharply in the construction industry to 7.7 in April--the lowest level since September 2008--from 11.0 in March. While the number of construction job openings rose, the number of unemployed construction workers dropped in April to 1,077,000, the lowest level since October.

Unemployed per job opening rose to 5.2 from 2.0 in the professional and business services sector, the highest level since BLS began compiling JOLTS data in December 2000.

The JOLTS report tracks flows within the labor sector, noting hirings and separations by month as well as the number of job openings at the end of a month. It is reported by BLS on a one-month lag. In addition to totals, data are reported on major industry sectors.

The number of unemployed persons per job opening has been declining steadily since peaking at 6.7 in July 2009, when the recession officially ended. The calculation is a function of the number of people unemployed, which fell to 11,659,000 in April--the lowest level since December 2008--and the number of job openings. Unemployment rose in May, to 11,760,000.

_Hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S (Sirius 124) on Friday at 6:20 a.m. Eastern._

About Author: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.

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