With the BLS’s JOLTs, or job openings and labor turnover survey, coming in with an extra month delay, we already knew that the May jobs data would be the strongest on record (if only after the catastrophic April loss of 20MM jobs), and sure enough that’s what the BLS confirmed moments ago when it revealed that in May the number of job openings jumped from a revised 4.996 million to 5.397 million, beating the expectation for a continued drop to 4.5 million (after plunging from 6 million to just 5 million in April, a level last seen in 2014).
Job openings rose in accommodation and food services (+196,000), retail trade (+147,000), and construction (+118,000); they declined in information (-55,000), federal government (-37,000), and educational services (-27,000). The number of job openings increased in the South region.
While we already knew that the series of 24 consecutive months in which there were more job openings than unemployed workers ended with a thud in March, in April it was an absolute doozy with 18 million more unemployed workers than there are job openings, the biggest gap on record. In May the gap closed somewhat, with 15.6 million more unemployed than available job openings. As a result, there were about 3.9 unemployed workers for every job opening.
There was a silver lining in the number of hires which after plunging to a decade-low 4 million in April, soared by 1.5 million in May to a record high 6.487MM. Hires increased in a number of industries, with the greatest rise in accommodation and food services (+763,000), followed by health care and social assistance (+479,000), and construction (+427,000).
Additionally, as hires soared in May, separations tumbled from 10 million to just 4.1 million. Of these, the number of layoffs collapsed to just 1.8 million in May from 7.7 million in April, and a record 11.5 million in March.The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in May to 1.8 million (-5,912,000) and 1.4 percent, respectively. The rate, which had reached a series high of 7.6 percent in March, is now much closer to the pre-pandemic rate of 1.2 percent in February. The number of layoffs and discharges decreased for total private to 1.7 million (-5,809,000) and for government to 124,000 (-103,000). The layoffs and discharges level decreased in all but one industry. The largest declines occurred in accommodation and food services (-1,251,000), followed by retail trade (-758,000), and other services (-698,000). Layoffs and discharges increased in federal government (+16,000).
And, with far fewer people getting fired, there was a modest increase in the number of people quitting their jobs, which rose to 2.1 million (+190,000). Quits rose to 2.0 million (+228,000) for total private and fell to 108,000 (-38,000) for government. Quits increased in accommodation and food services (+88,000), durable goods manufacturing (+38,000), and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+27,000). Quits decreased in state and local government education (-26,000), state and local government, excluding education (-25,000), and educational services (-22,000).