The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey for the month of March showed a modest pullback within the general trend of a tightening labor market. Openings gave up February gains, while the quit rate moved sideways. Both total and private-only quits have stopped accelerating, while the opening rate has also paused.
Layoffs have definitely risen somewhat over the last couple of months but it’s important to keep in mind the range they’ve been in for over two years now; both private (the more important rate) and total layoffs and discharges are firmly inside their low levels.
One insight we’d like to highlight: low-end jobs have shown a much higher quit rate in March than the decline in total openings. Food Services, Retail, Construction, and Transportation are all industries that have less specialization and lower pay than many other industries. While Construction openings remain quite low in the context of the recent trend, the other three saw a dramatic surge versus last month. The Transportation jump (0.4 percentage points MoM) was the largest jump in series history, and Food Services/Retail saw jumps of similar magnitude.