JOLTs Shock: 4.5 Unemployed Workers For Every Job Opening As Hiring Craters, Quits Plummet

With the BLS's JOLTs, or job openings and labor turnover, survey coming in with an extra month delay, we already knew that the April data would be the worst on record, and sure enough that's what happened when the BLS reported that in April the number of job openings plunged from a revised 6.011 million to just 5.046 million, a level last seen in 2014, with the two-month drop of nearly 2 million job openings the largest on record going back to 2000.

The largest declines in job openings took place in professional and business services (-309,000), health care and social assistance (-115,000), and retail trade (-113,000).

While we already knew that the series of 24 consecutive months in which there were more job openings than unemployed workers ended in March, in April it was an absolute doozy with 18 million more unemployed workers than there are job openings, the biggest gap on record. As a result, there were about 4.5 unemployed workers for every job opening.

If this data is accurate, and if indeed there wasn't a surge in job openings amid the mass layoffs of March and April, then hopes for a sharp rebound in the labor market will be dashed because employers are simply not hiring.

Also far worse will be the number of hires, which in April crashed by a record 1.6 million, from 5.111 million to 3.524 million, something which one can argue was long overdue considering the persistent outperformance of this series relative to the rolling 12 month payroll change. Hires  decreased for total private (-1,439,000) and for government (-148,000). Hires decreased in a number of industries, with the largest declines in professional and business services (-422,000), accommodation and food services (-247,000), and construction (-196,000)

Additionally, in April the number of layoffs was 9.888 million, down from the record 14.6 million in March. . The number of layoffs and discharges decreased for total private to 7.5 million (-3,816,000) but increased for government to 216,000 (+43,000). The layoffs and discharges level decreased significantly in several industries. The majority of the decline occurred in accommodation and food services (-2,738,000) followed by retail trade (-338,000). Layoffs and discharges increased in construction (+85,000), information (+53,000), and wholesale trade (+50,000).

And, inversely, with everyone getting fired, virtually nobody had any interest in voluntarily quitting and such the number of quits tumbled by the most ever, from 2.789MM to just 1.786MM, the lowest level since May 2010. Quits decreased in a number of industries, with the largest decreases in accommodation and food services (-249,000) and professional and business services (-216,000).