Job Openings Ratio at Record Low in January As Job Openings Surge

 By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • Job openings at the end of January ROSE to their highest level ever, 6.3 million an 11.4 percent increase;
  • The number of hires in January ROSE as well, up 1.1 percent to 5.6 million;
  • The ratio of unemployed to job opening DROPPED in January to1.06 to one, the lowest ratio since the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey began in December 2001;


  • The job openings rate – job openings divided by the sum of job opening plus employment – ROSE to 4.1 in January, the second consecutive drop;
  • The hires rate – the number of hires divided by hires plus employment – was essentially FLAT in December at 3.8.
  • Not surprisingly, unemployment in the wholesale and retail trade sector ROSE by more in January – post holiday shopping – than any other industry sector

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Image result for job openings and labor turnover survey

That the January JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) showed a record number of job openings, it followed that the jobs report for February showed payrolls grew 313,000.

The number of openings rose most sharply in the “other services” and Information sectors, two sectors which saw unemployment grow, though they did not lead in unemployment growth.

In those sectors – and three others – the number of unemployed exceeds the number of job openings suggesting either cutbacks were too harsh or individuals who had been employed in those sectors should into remain unemployed for long.

On the flip side, according to the JOLTS data, there are 10 individuals unemployed in the professional and business services sector for every available job.

Other “tight” or competitive sectors are wholesale and retail trade (5.8 unemployed for every available job) and construction (4.4 unemployed persons for each job opening.

The JOLTS report fills in the lines of the painting of a tight labor market.

You can hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S Morning Briefing (Sirius 124) every Friday at 6:20 am Eastern Time. Follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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