Article

May 2014

Job openings continue to rise in 2013

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Table 1. Average monthly number of job openings and CES employment, not seasonally adjusted, 2001–2013
YearAverage monthly number of job openings (in thousands)Percent change from previous yearAverage monthly CES employment (in thousands)Percent change from previous year
20014,267(1)132,0740.0
20023,431-19.6130,628-1.1
20033,272-4.6130,318-.2
20043,5839.5131,7491.1
20054,04512.9134,0051.7
20064,4139.1136,3981.8
20074,4771.4137,9361.1
20083,654-18.4137,170-.6
20092,434-33.4131,233-4.3
20102,85117.1130,275-.7
20113,22513.1131,8421.2
20123,67113.8134,1041.7
20133,9116.5136,3681.7

Notes:

(1) JOLTS data are not available prior to December 2000, so there are no annual data for the previous year.

Source: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey and Current Employment Statistics survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even though the number of job openings had not returned to the level posted at the beginning of the most recent recession, job openings had increased 82.4 percent since the series trough in July 2009 through December 2013.

Job openings by region and industry. Job openings among regions differed slightly in their overall trends in 2013, but most regions experienced similar growth since the end of the recession. The average monthly job openings rate increased in most regions and was unchanged in the Northeast. The West experienced the largest increase in its average monthly rate, rising from 2.5 in 2012 to 2.8 in 2013.

By December 2013, the openings rate in the Midwest, South, and West had increased 73.3, 70.6, and 64.7 percent, respectively, since their recessionary low points. In comparison, the rate for the Northeast had grown 44.4 percent since its recessionary low point in July 2009.

In 2013, the average monthly job openings rate increased for a majority of industries. The retail trade industry experienced the largest increase in the average monthly job openings rate, rising from 2.4 percent in 2012 to 3.0 percent in 2013. Other industries with strong growth included finance and insurance, construction, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities. The federal government experienced the largest decrease in the average monthly job openings rate, falling from 2.4 percent in 2012 to 1.9 percent in 2013. Other industries that experienced a decline were real estate and rental and leasing, health care and social assistance, durable goods manufacturing, nondurable goods manufacturing, professional and business services, and information.

By December 2013, the job openings rates in most industries remained below their rates from December 2007, the beginning of the recession. Retail trade, durable goods manufacturing, and construction were the only industries that exceeded their rates from the beginning of the recession.

Job openings and unemployment. The ratio of unemployed people per job opening is calculated by dividing the level of unemployment from the Current Population Survey (CPS)4 by the number of job openings. The ratio changes over time, tending to rise during recessions and fall during expansionary times. The ratio has trended downward since its high point of 6.8 in July 2009, one month after the end of the recession. Over the year, the ratio declined from 3.3 in January 2013 to 2.6 in December 2013. However, this is still higher than the ratio at the beginning of the recession in December 2007 when it was 1.8 (see figure 2).

The Beveridge curve illustrates the inverse relationship between unfilled labor demand (as measured by the job openings rate) and unused labor supply (as measured by the unemployment rate) over time. The curve plots the intersection of the job openings rate and the unemployment rate, producing a downward-sloping curve. The curve reflects the state of the economy in two ways: through movements along the curve or through shifts in the curve toward or away from the origin. Movements along the curve are attributed to cyclical changes in the economy. High job openings and low unemployment result in a position high and to the left on the curve and generally indicate a period of economic expansion. Low job openings and high unemployment result in a position low and to the right on the curve and generally indicate a period of economic contraction. Movements of the curve itself may indicate structural changes in the economy. A greater difference between the job openings rate and the unemployment rate—lower job-matching efficiency—cause the curve to shift away from the origin.

Notes

4 Data on unemployment are available from the Current Population Survey program at http://www.bls.gov/cps/.

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About the Author

Megan Sweitzer
sweitzer.megan@bls.gov

Megan Sweitzer is an economist in the Office of Industry Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.