An update on the U.S. labor market from the September JOLTS report

Every month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data on flows in the U.S. labor market. These data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey tell us about how many workers are hired, quit their jobs, or are laid off from their jobs. It also tells us how many jobs employers are trying to hire.

Below are a few graphs pulling out key trends from the JOLTS data released yesterday morning. With the current recovery rolling into its seventh year, policymakers should continue to watch these data as the Federal Reserve considers a possible rate increase in December and as U.S. legislators and the Obama Administration wrestle over a budget deal in the coming lame duck session of Congress.

The Beveridge Curve shows the relationship between the number of job openings that employers are posting and the unemployment rate. During the recovery from the Great Recession, the curve seems to have shifted outward since the end of the downturn in mid-2009. The reason for this shift could be due to employers increasing the skills they require of workers or a lack of recruiting intensity from employers.

Breaking the curve out by length of unemployment shows that the shift outward is concentrated among workers who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. A lower rate of hiring among long-term unemployed workers may be responsible for the overall outward shift.

Workers are more likely to quit their job when the labor market is stronger. If there are fewer unemployed workers to hire from, then workers who already have a job are likely to be poached and quit their current job. But different measures of labor market slack show a different relationship with quitting.

The rate of quitting seems in line with the previous relationship with the unemployment rate. Yet workers seem more likely to quit for a given prime-age employment-to-population ratio than in the past.

November 9, 2016


Nick Bunker


Bargaining Power

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