Economist's Insights

JOLTS Openings Jump to New Series Record in Strong July Report

Sep 12, 2017

Another month of unexpectedly strong employer demand for U.S. workers pushed the number of available positions to a second consecutive series high. The July JOLTS report showed job openings increased from 6.116M in June (revised down 47K) to 6.170MM, the most since the series started in 2000. The month-over-month increase left the openings rate unchanged at 4.0%, the highest in the series’ history reached three other times since 2000 (June 2017, July 2016, July 2015). Hiring also rebounded to its best level since 2015 and the hires rate increased to 3.8% matching its highest mark since early 2007. The separations data was also positive. Total separations rose because job quits rebounded to the third strongest level since 2001. Job quits are considered a positive indicator because it shows employees are confident in other employment opportunities the labor market affords. Layoffs pulled back after a big jump in June but the layoffs rate remained at 1.2%, the highest since February 2016. Disappointingly though, the strength of these metrics did not adjust the flatness of the Phillips Curve. Looking back, average hourly earnings grew just 2.5% YoY in July.