Labor participation has been on a sharp rise but job openings in the JOLTS report are down in the February report, to 5.445 million from January's revised 5.604 million. The job openings rate slipped 1 tenth to 3.7 percent.
But in signs of rising strength, the hiring rate rose a sharp 2 tenths to 3.8 percent with the quits rate up 1 tenth to 2.1 percent. Note that gains in the quits rate hint at rising confidence among workers to shift jobs. The layoffs rate came in unchanged at 2.1 percent.
The dip back in job openings is a negative but the level of job openings is strong and is the 4th highest of the recovery. Still, a slowing in new postings does not point to increasing improvement for labor participation which, as evidenced in last week's employment report, has been on a surge as new workers, more confident that they can find a job, enter the labor market.
The JOLTS report is the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The headline number is job openings.
The JOLTS report defines Job Openings as all positions that are open (not filled) on the last business day of the month. A job is "open" only if it meets all three of the following conditions:
* A specific position exists and there is work available for that position. The position can be full-time or part-time, and it can be permanent, short-term, or seasonal, and
* The job could start within 30 days, whether or not the establishment finds a suitable candidate during that time, and
* There is active recruiting for workers from outside the establishment location that has the opening.
Active recruiting means the establishment is taking steps to fill a position. It may include advertising in newspapers, on television, or on radio; posting Internet notices; posting "help wanted" signs; networking with colleagues or making "word of mouth" announcements; accepting applications; interviewing candidates; contacting employment agencies; or soliciting employees at job fairs, state or local employment offices, or similar sources.
Job Openings does not include:
* Positions open only to internal transfers, promotions or demotions, or recall from layoffs
* Openings for positions with start dates more than 30 days in the future
* Positions for which employees have been hired, but the employees have not yet reported for work
* Positions to be filled by employees of temporary help agencies, employee leasing companies, outside contractors, or consultants. A separate form is used to collect information from temporary help/employee leasing firms for these employees.
JOLTS defines hires as all additions to the payroll during the month. JOLTS defines separations as all employees separated from the payroll during the calendar month.
Although lagging the release timing of the employment situation report by a month, JOLTS provides additional information on the labor market. The payroll survey in the employment situation report provides numbers on net job changes. JOLTS breaks down labor market data into pre-net changessuch as job openings, hires, and separations.