Behind the Curtain

By Andrew Paparozzi
In May 9, 2008

How much churning is going on in the labor market? Each month we concentrate on the net gain or loss in jobs and the unemployment rate. But these results are the net cumulation of hires and separations, etc. Let’s look behind the curtain for any potential insights.

Each month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects data from business establishments and government entities in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Data for February show that there were a total of 4,638,000 hires in nonfarm positions—162,000 fewer than in February 2007. Hiring as a percent of total employment was at 3.4%. This was down from 3.5% a year ago and 3.7% in February 2006. Total separations, which include quits, layoffs, discharges, etc., were actually 39,000 lower than a year ago at 4,485,000. The separation rate was at 3.3%—the same as a year ago.

The release also showed that job openings were down 348,000 from a year ago to 3,820,000. The job openings rate (openings as a percent of total employment plus openings) was at 2.7% in February, down from 2.9% a year ago. These data suggest that the weakness we’ve been witnessing in the labor market to this point largely stems from the lack of new job creation, not massive layoffs. They also reveal a lot of churning not shown by the headline numbers. What’s this mean going forward? Stay tuned.

Joseph Vincenzino

Andrew Paparozzi

Epicomm's Andrew Paparozzi, Vice President/Chief Economist, is well-known for his accurate and thoughtful discussions on the economy and US commercial printing industry. A foremost author and speaker on economic business trends in the printing industry, Paparozzi heads Epicomm's Printing Economic Research Center.

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