As we noted last month, there appears to be a fair degree of seasonality in the job openings numbers reported by the BLS each month. In September, openings rose modestly, in-line with the seasonal trend we highlighted a month ago. This month, openings came in almost right at expectations, totaling 5.486 million positions. The separation rate trended lower, though we should note that wasn’t because of quits, which were stable MoM (more on that below).
The openings rate also ticked up MoM to 3.7%, though that was entirely due to government workers; the private sector saw an openings rate unchanged from August at 3.9%.
Quits have not risen dramatically over the last couple of months but are broadly trending higher. As shown below, in September quits were unchanged from revised August figures in both the whole economy and the private sector only.
The real news this month (in our view) was the frankly shocking lack of firings and layoffs. Both the private sector and the whole economy made record lows for layoffs and discharges, broadly confirmed by data from the weekly initial jobless claims data and the monthly Employment Situation Report figures. It’s also worth noting that the trend for both these figures has been consistently lower, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see some negative revisions (higher rate) in coming months.
At the industry level, quit rates ticked up in Food Services (which has enjoyed extremely strong wage growth in recent months) and Transportation, but remain extremely low in the Construction industry despite a very low level of unemployment for that class of worker. On a regional basis, all major Census regions saw sequentially lower layoff rates with the South and Midwest setting new record lows.