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The February 2022 JOLTS Report: Remarkable Job Market Conditions Persist

The February 2022 JOLTS Report: Remarkable Job Market Conditions Persist

This Remains the Tightest Labor Market on Record

Little changed in yesterday’s JOLTS report, but that is remarkable in and of itself. Extremely, unusually tight labor market conditions are persisting longer than anyone might have predicted. Nationwide job openings are holding steady at a level more than 60% higher than the pre-Covid level and exceeding the number of unemployed people by an astonishing 5 million. 

Certain segments of the job market have seen even more dramatic change. For example, job openings are up a remarkable 117% in major enterprises (with more than 5,000 employees), and 100% in small businesses with 10-49 employees, compared to their pre-pandemic levels. There are currently more than 3 million vacancies in small businesses, with a record-high job openings rate of 7.6%. (By contrast, the nationwide average job openings rate before the pandemic was just 3.2%.)

The Great Resignation Continues

Abounding opportunities are enticing people to quit their jobs and fueling tremendous labor market churn. For 9 straight months, more than 4 million Americans have quit their jobs monthly, making for a quits rate of 2.9%, a full percentage point higher than the pre-Covid average of 1.9%. 

The rate at which workers are quitting their jobs is at an all-time high in mid-size companies with 50–249 employees (3.8%) and in large businesses with 1,000–4,999 employees (3.0%), which saw a large one-month jump in their quits rate from 2.5% in January. 

The Great Return Has Begun

The uptick in hiring suggests that labor supply constraints are easing. The Great Return to the labor market is well underway, with more than 2.5 million Americans entering the labor force in the past 6 months. If Americans continue to return at that pace, faster job growth could be unleashed in the coming months, even as uncertainty, inflation, and rising interest rates hold back investment. 

The Labor Market Continues to Break Records

The western part of the country is experiencing record-high levels of churn with both job openings and quits hitting new records. Nationwide, openings soared to new heights in professional and business services, healthcare, and state and local government education, and quits hit new records in manufacturing. 

Businesses Continue To Hold Onto Their Workers

Layoffs remain low in all categories of businesses, especially at enterprises with more than 5,000 employees where only 0.4% of employees are being laid off each month. Public sector employees, and those in education and healthcare services, have the highest degree of job security, with layoff rates of 0.4% and 0.5% respectively. The average pre-pandemic layoff rate nationwide was almost 1.4%, so this is a dramatic improvement for workers, who are the ones calling the shots in this job seeker’s market.  

Written by

Julia Pollak is Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. She leads ZipRecruiter's economic research team, which provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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