Thursday, April 18, 2024

Washington maintains steady job openings in November amid national labor trends

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest report, revealing that job openings in Washington state held steady in November 2023, with 172,000 positions available, mirroring the figures from October. This stability in the labor market is mirrored in the job openings rate, which remained constant at 4.5 percent, aligning with the previous month's data. This local rate, however, trails behind the national average, which stood at 5.3 percent in the same period.

The labor market's dynamics are further illustrated by the ratio of unemployed persons per job opening. Washington saw a ratio of 0.9, slightly above the national measure of 0.7. This figure places Washington in a unique position compared to other states, with 32 states and the District of Columbia recording lower ratios, while 13 states reported higher figures.

A closer look at the state's labor turnover reveals a mixed picture. In November, Washington recorded 104,000 hires and 119,000 separations, a noticeable shift from October's 117,000 hires and 98,000 separations. Over the past 12 months, the average indicates a more balanced scenario, with hires averaging 126,000 per month and separations at 124,000.

The composition of these separations in November is particularly telling. Quits, which are voluntary employee departures, increased to 72,000 from October's 61,000. This rise suggests a labor market where employees feel confident in leaving their positions for better opportunities. Layoffs and discharges also saw an uptick, rising to 41,000 from 31,000 in the previous month.

These statistics are part of the Bureau's broader Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which sheds light on labor demand and turnover at a state level. The methodology behind these estimates includes data from JOLTS samples, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), and Current Employment Statistics (CES).

The report also defines key terms for clarity. Job openings refer to positions available on the last business day of the month, contingent upon certain conditions like immediate availability and active recruitment. Hires encompass all payroll additions in the reference month, while separations include all types from the payroll, categorized as quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations.

Looking ahead, the State Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey estimates for December 2023 are scheduled for release on February 14, 2024.

This comprehensive report, with its focus on both the state and national labor market trends, provides a detailed snapshot of the current economic landscape, highlighting the nuanced dynamics at play in the employment sector.

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