U.S. Job Openings Rise in July and Hires Decrease

Job openings rose to 6.6 million in July. Hires decreased to 5.8 million. Total separations was little changed at 5.0 million.

JOB OPENINGS AND LABOR TURNOVER – JULY 2020

The number of job openings increased to 6.6 million on the last business day of July, the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. Hires decreased to 5.8 million in July. Total separations was little
changed at 5.0 million. Within separations, the quits rate rose to 2.1 percent while the layoffs and
discharges rate decreased to 1.2 percent. These changes in the labor market reflected an ongoing
resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
and efforts to contain it. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires,
and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, and by four geographic regions.
 
Job Openings

On the last business day of July, the number and rate of job openings increased to 6.6 million
(+617,000) and 4.5 percent, respectively. Job openings rose in a number of industries, with the largest
increases in retail trade (+172,000), health care and social assistance (+146,000), and construction
(+90,000). The number of job openings increased in the South and Midwest regions. (See table 1.)

Hires

In July, the number and rate of hires decreased to 5.8 million (-1,183,000) and 4.1 percent, respectively.
Over the year, the hires level was little changed. Hires decreased in a number of industries, with the
largest fall in accommodation and food services (-599,000), followed by other services (-143,000), and
health care and social assistance (-137,000). Hires increased in federal government (+33,000), largely
because of Census hiring. Hires also increased in real estate and rental and leasing (+26,000). The
number of hires decreased in all four regions. (See table 2.)

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is
referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore,
the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and
discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations
due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.

In July, the number and rate of total separations was little changed at 5.0 million and 3.6 percent,
respectively. Total separations increased in retail trade (+112,000) and in state and local government
education (+49,000). The number of total separations decreased in durable goods manufacturing
(-44,000). Total separations was little changed in all four regions. (See table 3.)

In July, the number and rate of quits increased to 2.9 million (+344,000) and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Quits increased in retail trade (+152,000), professional and business services (+98,000), and state and
local government education (+35,000). The number of quits increased in the Midwest and West regions.
(See table 4.)

The number and rate of layoffs and discharges decreased to 1.7 million (-274,000) and 1.2 percent,
respectively in July. The layoffs and discharges level decreased in durable goods manufacturing
(-40,000), transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-40,000), and wholesale trade (-21,000). The
number of layoffs and discharges decreased in the Northeast and South regions. (See table 5.)

The number of other separations was little changed in July at 337,000. Other separations increased in a
few industries, with the largest increases in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+35,000) and state
and local government education (+16,000). Other separations decreased in health care and social
assistance (-22,000). Other separations was little changed in all four regions. (See table 6.)

Net Change in Employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle. Net
employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of
hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining.
Conversely, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even
if the hires level is steady or rising.

Over the 12 months ending in July, hires totaled 70.2 million and separations totaled 78.5 million,
yielding a net employment loss of 8.2 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired
and separated more than once during the year.