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Economic News Release
JOLTS JLT Program Links

State Job Openings and Labor Turnover Technical Note

Technical Note

This news release presents statistics from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The JOLTS program 
provides information on labor demand and turnover. Additional information about the JOLTS program can be found at Estimates are published for job openings, hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, and separations. 
The JOLTS program covers all private nonfarm establishments, as well as civilian federal, state, and local government 
entities in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Industries are classified in accordance with the North American 
Industry Classification System. 

Definitions and Methodology (National/State). Shared definitions and procedures for National and State JOLTS Estimates 
can be found at:

Data Element Definitions

Employment. Employment includes persons on the payroll who worked or received pay for the pay period that 
includes the 12th day of the reference month. Full-time, part-time, permanent, short-term, seasonal, salaried, and 
hourly employees are included, as are employees on paid vacation or other paid leave. Proprietors or partners of 
unincorporated businesses, unpaid family workers, or employees on strike for the entire pay period, and employees 
on leave without pay for the entire pay period are not counted as employed. Employees of temporary help agencies, 
employee leasing companies, outside contractors, and consultants are counted by their employer of record, not by 
the establishment where they are working. JOLTS does not publish employment estimates but uses the reported 
employment for validation of the other reported data elements.

Job Openings. Job openings include all positions that are open on the last business day of the reference month.

A job is open only if it meets all three of these conditions: 
* A specific position exists and there is work available for that position. The position can be full-time or part-
time, and it can be permanent, short-term, or seasonal. 
* The job could start within 30 days, whether or not the employer can find a suitable candidate during that time. 
* The employer is actively recruiting workers from outside the establishment to fill the position. Active 
recruiting means that the establishment is taking steps to fill a position. It may include advertising in 
newspapers, on television, or on the radio; posting Internet notices, posting “help wanted” signs, 
networking or making “word-of-mouth” announcements; accepting applications; interviewing candidates; 
contacting employment agencies; or soliciting employees at job fairs, state or local employment offices, or 
similar sources.

Excluded are positions open only to internal transfers, promotions or demotions, or recall from layoffs. Also 
excluded are openings for positions with start dates more than 30 days in the future, positions for which employees 
have been hired but the employees have not yet reported for work, and positions to be filled by employees of 
temporary help agencies, employee leasing companies, outside contractors, or consultants. The job openings rate is 
computed by dividing the number of job openings by the sum of employment and job openings and multiplying that 
quotient by 100.

Hires. Hires include all additions to the payroll during the entire reference month, including newly hired and 
rehired employees; full-time and part-time employees; permanent, short-term, and seasonal employees; employees 
who were recalled to a job at the location following a layoff (formal suspension from pay status) lasting more than 7 
days; on-call or intermittent employees who returned to work after having been formally separated; workers who 
were hired and separated during the month, and transfers from other locations. Excluded are transfers or promotions 
within the reporting location, employees returning from strike, employees of temporary help agencies, employee 
leasing companies, outside contractors, or consultants. The hires rate is computed by dividing the number of hires by 
employment and multiplying that quotient by 100.

Separations. Total Separations include all separations from the payroll during the entire reference month and is 
reported by type of separation:  quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Quits include employees who 
left voluntarily with the exception of retirements or transfers to other locations. Layoffs and discharges includes 
involuntary separations initiated by the employer including layoffs with no intent to rehire; layoffs (formal 
suspensions from pay status) lasting or expected to last more than 7 days; discharges resulting from mergers, 
downsizing, or closings; firings or other discharges for cause; terminations of permanent or short-term employees; 
and terminations of seasonal employees (whether or not they are expected to return the next season). Other 
separations include retirements, transfers to other locations, separations due to employee disability; and deaths. 
Excluded from other separations are transfers within the same location; employees on strike; employees of temporary 
help agencies, employee leasing companies, outside contractors, or consultants. The other separations component is 
not published for states due to its comparatively high error, and because it comprises less than 8% of total 
separations. The separations rate is computed by dividing the number of separations by employment and multiplying 
that quotient by 100. The quits and layoffs and discharges rates are computed similarly.

State Estimates Methodology

The JOLTS sample of 21,000 establishments does not directly support the production of sample based state estimates. 
However, state estimates have been produced by combining the available sample with model-based estimates. 

These estimates consist of four major estimating models; the Composite Regional model, the Synthetic model, the 
Composite Synthetic model, and the Extended Composite Synthetic model. The Composite Regional model uses JOLTS 
microdata, JOLTS regional published estimates, and Current Employment Statistics (CES) employment data. The Composite 
Synthetic model uses JOLTS microdata and Synthetic model estimates derived from monthly employment changes in 
microdata from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), and JOLTS published regional data. The Extended 
Composite Synthetic extends the Composite Synthetic estimates by ratio-adjusting the Composite Synthetic by the 
ratio of the current Composite Regional model estimate to the Composite Regional model estimate from one year ago. 

The Extended Composite Synthetic model (and its major component—the Composite Regional model) is used to extend 
the Composite Synthetic estimates because all of the inputs required by this model are available at the time 
monthly estimate are produced. In contrast, the Composite Synthetic model (and its major component—the Synthetic 
model) can only be produced when the latest QCEW data are available. The current model uses the Extended Composite 
Synthetic model estimates to extend the Composite Synthetic model estimates during the annual JOLTS re-tabulation 
process. The extension of the Composite Synthetic model using current data-based Composite Regional model estimates 
will ensure that the Composite Synthetic model estimates reflect current economic trends. 

The Composite Regional model calculates state-level JOLTS estimates from JOLTS microdata using sample weights, and 
the adjustments for non-response (NRAF). The Composite Regional estimate is then benchmarked to CES state-supersector 
employment to produce state-supersector estimates. The JOLTS sample, by itself, cannot ensure a reasonably sized 
sample for each state-supersector cell. The small JOLTS sample results in quite a number of state-supersector cells 
that lack enough data to produce a reasonable estimate. To overcome this issue, the state-level estimates derived 
directly from the JOLTS sample are augmented using JOLTS regional estimates when the number of respondents is low 
(that is, less than 30). This approach is known as a composite estimate which leverages the small JOLTS sample 
to the greatest extent possible and supplements that with a model-based estimate. 

In this approach, the JOLTS microdata-based estimate is used, without model augmentation, in all state-supersector 
cells that have 30 or more respondents. The JOLTS regional estimate will be used, without a sample-based component, 
in all state-supersector cells that have fewer than five respondents. In all state-supersector cells with 5–30 
respondents an estimate is calculated that is a composition of a weighted estimate of the microdata-based estimate 
and a weighted estimate of the JOLTS regional estimate. The weight assigned to the JOLTS data in those cells is 
proportional the number of JOLTS respondents in the cell (weight=n/30, where n is the number of respondents). 

Benchmarking. The JOLTS State estimates utilize and leverage data from three BLS programs; JOLTS, CES, and QCEW. 
These state estimates are published as a historical series comprised of an historical annually 
revised benchmark component for the Composite Synthetic model and a current component Extended Composite Synthetic 
model which provides monthly "real-time" estimates between lagged benchmarks.

Seasonal adjustment. BLS uses X-13 ARIMA for seasonal adjustment. A concurrent seasonal adjustment methodology 
is used in which new seasonal adjustment factors are calculated each month, using all relevant data, up to and 
including current month data. JOLTS state seasonal adjustment includes both additive and multiplicative models 
and REGARIMA (regression with auto-correlated errors) modeling to improve the seasonal adjustment factors at the 
beginning and end of the series and to detect and adjust for outliers in the series. The seasonally adjusted CES 
over-the-month employment trends are applied to the seasonally adjusted JOLTS state implied employment trends 
(hires minus separations) forcing them to be approximately the same, while preserving the seasonality of the 
JOLTS data.

Reliability of the estimates

JOLTS estimates are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. Sampling error occurs when a sample is 
surveyed rather than the entire population. There is a chance that the sample estimates may differ from the true 
population values they represent. The difference, or sampling error, varies depending on the particular sample 
selected. This variability is measured by the standard error of the estimate. BLS analysis is generally conducted 
at the 90-percent level of confidence. That means that there is a 90-percent chance, or level of confidence, that 
an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more than 1.6 standard errors from the true population value because 
of sampling error. Sampling error estimates are available on the JOLTS Median Standard Errors page:

The JOLTS estimates also are affected by nonsampling error. Nonsampling error can occur for many reasons including: 
the failure to include a segment of the population; the inability to obtain data from all units in the sample; 
the inability or unwillingness of respondents to provide data on a timely basis; mistakes made by respondents; 
errors made in the collection or processing of the data; and errors from the employment benchmark data used in 

The JOLTS State variance estimates account for both sampling error and the error attributable to modeling. A small 
area domain model uses a Bayesian model to develop estimates of JOLTS State variance. The small area model uses QCEW-
based JOLTS synthetic model data to generate a Bayesian prior distribution, then updates the prior distribution using 
JOLTS microdata and sample-based variance estimates at the State and US Census Regional level to generate a Bayesian 
posterior distribution. Once the Bayesian posterior distribution has been generated, an estimate of JOLTS State variance 
estimates is made by drawing 2,500 estimates from the Bayesian posterior distribution. This Bayesian approach thus 
indirectly accounts for sampling error and directly for model error.

Other information

Detailed information the JOLTS State methodology can be found at:

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Last Modified Date: November 17, 2022