Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics updated its monthly Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). November’s data showed an uptick in layoffs and firings from a record low rate earlier in the fall. While that was some bad news, hiring has been accelerating. Private sector gross hiring was 4.5% of the labor force in August, and it’s now up to 4.7% in November. That’s a record pace of new hires for any period in the history of the series other than the immediate bounce-back from the initial COVID shock this spring. As for job openings, openings have stabilized a ways below their peak from the last cycle. So while there are lots of layoffs, the story is less negative than it might sound. Like what you see? Click here for a free trial to any of Bespoke’s premium membership options, including our nightly Closer note that regularly features economic analysis of this kind.

Another interesting dynamic in the JOLTS data is the industry-level results. Hires are strongest versus history in areas that you might expect given the impact of COVID: manufacturing, transportation/warehousing/utilities. Some surprising areas are very weak though: construction and information stand out. As for COVID impacts, you wouldn’t expect strong hires in accommodation and food services, but there they are. Job openings are the highest relative to history in manufacturing but are also extremely high in accommodation & food services as well as state and local education. Finally, we note that layoffs are basically consistent with COVID-driven weakness, plus the effects of Census hiring rolling off for the Federal government.

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