This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Series (JOLTS) data for the month of April, with slight decreases in the rates of job openings and hiring. In April, there were 2.97 million job openings, down from 3.12 million in March, with the job openings rate falling from 2.3 to 2.2 percent. Similarly, the hiring rate decreased from 3.1 to 3.0 percent, with 3.97 million hires in April compared to 4.07 million in March. The separations rate and the layoff rate remained unchanged at 2.9 percent and 1.2 percent, however, both saw slight decrease in their level.
Manufacturers scaled back their hiring in April, mirroring the results we have seen in other economic indicators. There were 257,000 new hires in manufacturing in April, compared to 269,000 in March. As the above figure shows, manufacturing hiring has stayed around 250,000 or more for much of the past year, hovering around 2.1 to 2.4 percent of total employment in the industry. On the good side, separations also declined from 245,000 in March to 233,000 in April, or around 2.0 percent.
The silver lining to this report is that net hiring for manufacturers is positive, with hiring exceeding separations by 24,000. Overall hiring and separations numbers have improved significantly from the recession years. But, it is also clear that we need to do more to spur additional hiring in manufacturing and the rest of the economy. The recent weakness, mostly stemming from supply issues and pricing pressures, has had an impact and it would be nice to see better growth moving forward than these numbers, and the May jobs numbers, indicate.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.
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