February 7, 2017 09:00 CST

Actual Previous Revised
Job Openings 5.501M 5.522M 5.505M

Job openings remain well above hiring though the gap narrowed slightly in December. Job openings totaled 5.501 million in the month, little changed from a revised 5.505 million in November. But hirings do show change, at 5.252 million for a 0.8 percent gain from November's 5.212 million. The gap between openings and hiring first opened up about 2 years ago signaling that employers are having a hard time finding people with the right skills. At 249,000, the current spread between openings and hirings is one of the narrowest of the past year and down from a 2016 peak of 760,000 in April. This report is a reminder that demand for labor is very strong.

The Labor Department's JOLTS report tracks monthly change in job openings and offers rates on hiring and quits. The reporting period lags other employment data including the employment situation report. The word JOLTS stands for Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

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 changesâ€such as job openings, hires, and separations.