Economic Snapshot: Hires, voluntary separations at highest level since 2008

We received fantastic employment news last Friday, with unemployment at its lowest rate in six years. Job openings are increasing year-over-year and voluntary separations and hires are at their highest levels in the past six or seven years. It’s hard to not be at least a little optimistic about the job market in its current state with these pre-recession numbers.

Employment situation

The U.S. economy added 214,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate declined to 5.8 percent, the lowest reading since 2008.

As of October, the number of unemployed persons was nine million. Both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons have decreased since the beginning of the year, by 0.8 percent and 1.2 million, respectively.

The number of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 2.9 million this month, accounting for 32 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.1 million. The number of involuntary part-time workers remained steady at 7.0 million.


There were 4.7 million job openings on the last business day of September, little changed from 4.9 million in August, and the job openings rate was 3.3 percent. The number of openings increased over the 12 months ending in September for total nonfarm, total private and government.

The number of job openings was little changed for total private and government in September and was little changed in all four regions of the country. The number of openings decreased for arts, entertainment and recreation in September.

Hires increased in September to 5.0 million, the highest level since December 2007, and the hires rate was 3.6 percent. Over the 12 months ending in September, the number of hires increased for total nonfarm, total private and government.

There were 4.8 million separations in September, at a rate of 3.4 percent. Within separations, the number of quits increased to 2.8 million, the highest level since April 2008. Over the 12 months ending in September, the number of quits increased in all four regions.

NFIB small business optimism index

Small business optimism rose to 96.1, a 0.8-point increase from September and a return to its August level. The index read at 93.7 in October 2013.

The index measuring plans to increase capital outlays increased 4.0 points, as did expectations for real sales to be higher. Current job openings also increased 3.0 points. Current inventory fell the most this month, down 3.0 points from last month. The remaining indexed increased or decreased modestly from September to October.

“There is high percentage of real estate related businesses in the "small business" survey,” said Bill McBride of the Calculated Risk blog, “and this has held down overall optimism.”

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