JOLTS Summary: More Government Workers Quitting Voluntarily, More Private Sector Workers Getting Fired

Tyler Durden's picture

There was nothing to smile about in today's May JOLTS release from the BLS. Those expecting a pick up in job openings (traditionally the key requirement for an sustained increase in NFP) will have to wait some more, after the May number came at 3.0 million, the same as April. This is modestly better than the all time low of 2.1 million in July 2009, but is a far cry from the 4.4 million when the Depression started. And while there was no good news in Job Openings, there was some bad news in Total Separations which increased by over 200K sequentially from 3.833 MM to 4.059 MM. And for the first time since late 2010, the separations rates (defined to include voluntary quits, involuntary layoffs and discharges) rose to 3.1%, the same as the hires rate. Should the separations rate (especially if driven by involuntary departures) surpass the hires rate it will likely portend another period of NFP weakness ahead. What is most surprising is that contrary to conventional wisdom, the voluntary quits level among government workers increased from 38% to 41% of total, while the layoffs and discharges level dropped from 44% to 38%, which means that government workers were not "let go" - they left voluntarily. This throws a bit of a wrench in generic interpretations of the surge in the government component of the unemployment rate. What is worse is that the quits rate in the Private employment stayed flat at 50%, while the layoff and discharges rate increased from 42% to 44%. Ironically, it is Private workers who are getting fired more, while it is government workers who are quitting voluntarily.

Monthly big picture summary:

Drilling down into the key Separations number:

The quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs. In May, the quits rate was essentially unchanged for total nonfarm (1.5 percent), total private (1.7 percent), and government (0.6 percent). (See table 4.) Although the number of quits rose from 1.5 million in January 2010 (the most recent trough) to 2.0 million in May 2011, the number remained below the 2.8 million quits when the recession began in December 2007.

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) in May 2011 was higher than 12 months earlier for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Several industries experienced a rise in the number of quits over the year, and federal government experienced a decline. In the regions, the number of quits rose in the South but was little changed in the other three regions. (See table 8.)

The layoffs and discharges component of total separations is seasonally adjusted only at the total nonfarm, total private, and government levels. The layoffs and discharges rate was little changed in May for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The number of layoffs and discharges for total nonfarm was 1.8 million in May, up slightly from the recent low point of 1.5 million in January 2011, but still well below the peak of 2.5 million in February 2009. (See table B below.)

The layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) was essentially unchanged over the 12 months ending in May for total nonfarm and total private. The level decreased over the year for federal government, returning to a more typical level after a large number of layoffs in May 2010 of temporary Census workers. The number of layoffs and discharges was steady in the regions. (See table 9.)

And looking at relative contributions:

The total separations level is influenced by the relative contribution of its three components—quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The percentage of total separations attributable to the individual components has varied over time at the total nonfarm level, but for the majority of the months since the series began in December 2000, the proportion of quits has exceeded the proportion of layoffs and discharges. Other separations is historically a very small portion of total separations; it has rarely been above 10 percent of total separations.

The proportions of quits and layoffs and discharges were last equal in November 2010. Since then, the proportion of quits has trended upward, again exceeding the proportion of layoffs and discharges, which has trended downward. In May, the proportion of quits for total nonfarm was 49 percent and the proportion of layoffs and discharges was 44 percent. The proportions were similar for total private with 50 percent quits and 44 percent layoffs and discharges. For government, the proportions were 41 percent quits and 38 percent layoffs and discharges. (See table C below.)

Full report

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Momauguin Joe's picture

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out...

Oh regional Indian's picture

I think:

turn Off, Tune Out, Drop in 

works better in these times.

With apologies to the hopeless, CIA managed Godfather of psychedelics.


sitenine's picture

This data is not surprising. The .gov is offering early out retirements. From my experience, this is likely a prelude to RIF.

fallout11's picture

A RIF (reduction in force) is Fedgov speak for a layoff.

whatsinaname's picture

Yes have heard of profs in Chicago university system take vol retirement to avail of the luxurious pensions under older plans. Not taking the vol might cost them 100s of 1000s of dollars in post retirement comforts.

Blithering ORSA's picture

I was thinking more Steve Miller than Timothy Leary.


"Come on, take the money and run!"

Dick Darlington's picture

This together with the other bearish data, including NFIB small business optimism, explains why Russell 2000 is on green. Recessions really are bullish for equities...

SheepDog-One's picture

Yea until theyre suddenly and without warning, not.

A Man without Qualities's picture

Government borrows money from the Chinese to pay unemployed workers to buy shit made in China, clearly bullish.

snowball777's picture

And pays back Chinese on backs of remaining employed workers.

To the moon!

treemagnet's picture

One group is getting a big buyout offer and the other is carrying one box of personal stuff being led to the door by a security officer.  Wonder which is which.

RKDS's picture

Maybe they're trying to get some of their pensions before the angry and confused mob of sheeple we call "the private sector" lets the banks steal them too.

Things that go bump's picture

I thought we already spent their pensions.

SheepDog-One's picture

USA takes the lead in the World Full-Retard Special Olympics!! 


PS thats the worst chart spin Ive ever seen, 'USA leads the way' with a plunging line GDP headed to 2% and with this mornings data probably in the 1's, and in reality NEGATIVE when FED manipulation is removed....WOW thats real good news.

SheepDog-One's picture

Damn, people concluding its not even worth workin anymore? Rock on, summer of recovery!

USA! USA! Yes we CAN! Eat your peas!

Sudden Debt's picture

people want to fit in. And if you're the only one in your street who has a job, you don't fit in.


SheepDog-One's picture

YEP it must be uncomfortable these days at the cocktail parties being the only schlub with a job and still paying his mortgage. Got to fit in!

Cpl Hicks's picture

A cocktail party with the unemployed- that sounds like one of those oxymoron thingies.

OT-check out the rack on that "how to stay asleep all night" ad. Careful- don't get all smothered up in those.

Blano's picture

Yeah ain't those somethin'??  I'd kill for a pair of those.

Sudden Debt's picture

Now why would anybody quite a government job these days?

you only have to work as hard as the one sitting on the left of you who does the same but sits next to a plant,

you get to spit on the taxpayers all day,

you get a raise just for showing up,

you'll never lose your job, you'll have a good pension for sure,

when riots brake out you're the first in line who get guns to shoot at people,



docj's picture

Because you can get a buy-out and then, once the dust settles, get your old job back, probably with a raise, and it's lather-rinse-repeat.

I mean, that's pretty much what my dad (a retired public high school teacher) did - took the buy-out and 2-years later was right back at a different public school, essentially legally double dipping. Nice work if you can get it.

toady's picture

I've seen this done ALOT, I've even done it, only in the private sector.

Everytime I hear about it they make sure to add 'its perfectly legal'. I also hear 'its perfectly legal' about the Wall Street crimes against humanity.

Yet another failure for our lawmakers. All this shit is STILL 'perfectly legal'.

Sorry... Shitty mood this morning...

MachoMan's picture

Bingo.  You retire, take the pension, et al, and then get bored of hanging out alone in retirement and then go back to the old job and double dip...  hang out with the ol' gang.  See this EVERYWHERE. 

The thing about it is, you can have 10, 15, 20+ years of public employment and still be relatively young... 

Of course, although they haven't reasoned through it this far, they're perfectly right to start recouping those benefits as quickly as possible given the likelihood they'll be defaulted on...  if not in part, then in whole...  smoke em if you've got em.

tarsubil's picture

Feds often pull this trick where they take the buyout, get a very nice pension plus benefits then come back as a consultant making more in salary. The bonus is they do not need to take out money for benefits since those are being paid for by their buyout. I think they end up taking home twice the amount of money while also getting their pension so they have just a huge increase in cash while not having to care about their job at all. It's nice. You could buy a lot of TP and lead with that extra cash although I don't think any of them are doing that. They are probably buying stocks and marble countertops so what goes around comes around.

ElvisDog's picture

My wife left her job as a public school teacher last month - a combination of terrible parents, too many kids (5th grade) who couldn't read, write, or add 2+2, and a never-ended series of mandates and new directions from a bloated education bureaucracy. She got no buyout, no pension, she just couldn't take it any more.

weinerdog43's picture

Best wishes to you and your wife. 

tarsubil's picture

That sucks. My friend is a school teacher and she hates it too. It is worse for those who care about their students and don't do bubble tests (see Atlanta schools for how this is a big bonus for lazy/corrupt teachers).

knowless's picture

around 3 of the young(20-30yo) women in my family chose to be teachers, they have all since left the proffession after the first few years and returned to graduate school to pursue something more lucrative.. the generation above them has a few teachers still, most won't be able to retire it looks like.  The stories about the shit they put up with is extremely disheartening.

SokPOTUS's picture

See?  Now the answer is so obvious.  They quit because they are being treated so unfairly.

wisefool's picture

I've been told there is a brutal class system in government that mirrors the tenure system (surprise) in academia. The only competitiveness is the goal for promotion which solidifies "untouchability", which is not about competence but about political connections.

While this is going on, the work is not actually being done. And eventually vendors are brought in, who bring mid level, off the street contractors. They dangle the carrot of the easy government life if they do the work the gov'ies should have been doing the whole time. Except in the rarest cases, when the migrant workers are converted over to gov'ies they get the full serf treatment till they, as this article points out, quit, as they realize promotion is 100% based on two party political patronage. And hint: one of these party supports unions, for workers, who work for the government, are members of ........


knowless's picture

I have a friend who works for the unemployment department, and this sounds very similiar to his experiance, whenever I see him he rails about the bullshit he has to put up with..

Spastica Rex's picture

I quit my govt. job a year ago. I worked as a bureaucrat for an arm of the Oregon State Department of Education (more or less). My job was to encourage school districts to give up money that could have gone to classroom teachers to instead fund my agency and therefor my salary. I did this by warning them that there were new state and federal rules to comply with every year and if they didn't pay my agency (and me) to help them understand and follow these new rules, they would get in trouble and lose funding. Seriously. I was paid well. I could come and go as I pleased, as long as I showed up at meetings. I was paid to travel all over the northwest to attend conferences and trainings. I worked with groups of other bureaucrats who had never been in a classroom in their entire lives to tell real teachers how to do their jobs. What a joke. This is what education reform is.

Josh Randall's picture

Enlightening, can't help but wonder how may other roles only exist to consciously sponge off of other beaurocratic agencies, whom themselves have no reason for exisisting.  

Spastica Rex's picture

Interestingly, the private sector loved my agency. We created many opportunities for vendors to get their "products" into the public schools. There is huge money in testing, "data management," teacher training, technology and other "tools" for school improvement. All of it is a racket and it's nurtured by a fully symbiotic relationship between government and business.

On a side note...In Oregon, we had some charter schools, which were public schools operating under different regulations than standard public schools. In fact, charter schools were lauded by the business community becasue they had less regulation and more freedom in design and management. At the same time, the business community incessantly howled for more and more regulations for public schools in order to "improve" them. See above. The world is nuts.

toady's picture

I occasionally hear numbers like '100 administrators' per teacher, or per doctor in healthcare.

Sounds like a few too many to me, but if we got rid of them unemployment would skyrocket...

Who am I kidding! We will get to zero teachers per million (ZTPM) before we address management.

Spastica Rex's picture

There are way too many adminstrators. Unfortunately, you could shit-can them all and it wouldn't make much of a dent in the total cost of public ed. Nationally, something like 70% of the total cost of public ed is made up of teacher salaries and bennefits. This fact is not lost the big money players (Gates Foundation, Broad Foundation, etc.). All coorperate education reform is ultimately geared towards reducing the cost of teachers, either through the reduction of salaries and bennefits, or through the overall reduction in the numbers of teachers. Money freed up this way can then be utilized for testing, curriculum, and online education -- the big guys are all up in this space.

RKDS's picture

Now why would anybody quite work a government job these days?

you only have to work twice as hard as the one sitting on the left of you who does the same but sits next to a plant is a friend of a politico or was furloughed/retired and wasn't replaced,

you get to be spit on by the taxpayers all day,

you get a raise just for showing up unless you're non-union or they're raising your copays on insurance/retirement,

you'll never lose your job so welfare and subsidies can grow even more, you'll have a good they'll loot your pension for sure,

when riots brake out you're the first in line who get guns to shoot at people to be shot by your government or the mob of brainless simpletons who KEEP ELECTING THESE KLEPTOCRATS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER,


fixed that for you

(and of course the stupid strikeout tag is broken, just great...)

RKDS's picture

I wonder, is my junker the original poster who failed to spell "quit" and "break" right yet fancies himself above paying for all of the big government benefits he reaps?

Seasmoke's picture

and we move a little closer to civil war .......private vs. public

rwe2late's picture

 indeed, misdirected divisions are so helpful to maintaining plutocratic rule.

 - never mind the distinctions between top-level corrupt public 'servants' and public garbage collectors, or between wealthy CEOs and McDonald's cooks.

 - best to fight about the scraps at the bottom than the gluttony at the top.

It almost seems the inequities at the bottom were designed to promote in-fighting, while the disguised theft at the top avoids attention.

Oh regional Indian's picture

JOLTS. Hmmmm....

The name has it, what is not clear is why it's jolting PMs.

Undercurrents. One thing not clear to me regarding jobs. Are people just not willing to down-size? Go local? Work on a farm? Exchange debt slavery for real goods freedom?

When localities function and faraway goods cost money, why is everyone and their uncle not ordering CKD bikes from China and assembling and selling them? Electric Scooter Dealerships? All kinds of US certified goods are from Sale via China. Start the reverse process. No one is going to start it for you. Then move back up the value chain. The brief but devastatiing deflationary cycle will provide awesome opportunities for people dealing in use-full goods as well as a stock piling opportunity of a life-time.

If you are looking for ideas, please get in touch. 


Gandalf6900's picture

Can anyone tell me how the financial services job situation is in the US

Mad Marv's picture

I work in Nashville, Tn. Jobs and lending are both tight right now.

SokPOTUS's picture

Wall Street firms are laying off right now big-time.

They're front-running the crash.


LetThemEatRand's picture

Just so long as they guy who hits the "buy" button to keep the market levitated even as the world crumbles around us doesn't quit (or suffer finger injury from hitting the button 1 trillion times per day), everything will be just fine.