U.S. Total Separations Increase to a Series High; Job Openings and Hires Decrease in March

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U.S. Total Separations Increase to a Series High; Job Openings and Hires Decrease in March

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, separations increased to 14.5 million in March; of those, layoffs and discharges were 11.4 million. Job openings and hires fell to 6.2 million and 5.2 million, respectively.

JOB OPENINGS AND LABOR TURNOVER – MARCH 2020

The number of total separations increased by 8.9 million to a series high of 14.5 million in March, the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Within separations, the quits rate fell to 1.8 percent and
the layoffs and discharges rate increased to 7.5 percent. Job openings decreased to 6.2 million on the last
business day of March. Over the month, hires declined to 5.2 million. The changes in these measures
reflect the effects of 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 March, the number and rate of job openings declined to 6.2 million
(-813,000) and 3.9 percent, respectively. Job openings fell in total private (-774,000), with the largest
declines in accommodation and food services (-258,000) and durable goods manufacturing (-82,000).
The number of job openings decreased in the South, Midwest, and West regions. (See table 1.)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
| Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on March 2020 JOLTS Data |
| |
|Data collection for the JOLTS survey was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. More |
|information is available at the end of this news release and |
|[https://www.bls.gov/bls/job-openings-and-labor-turnover-covid19-march-2020.htm]. |
|________________________________________________________________________________________________________|

Hires

In March, the number and rate of hires decreased to 5.2 million (-658,000) and 3.4 percent, respectively.
The hires level decreased for total private (-654,000) and was little changed for government. Hires
decreased in accommodation and food services (-344,000), health care and social assistance (-87,000),
and durable goods manufacturing (-33,000). Hires increased in federal government (+8,000). The
number of hires decreased in the Northeast, South, and West 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 March, the number and rate of total separations increased to a series high of 14.5 million
(+8,922,000) and 9.6 percent, respectively. The number of total separations increased for total private to
14.1 million (+8,862,000) and for government to 411,000 (+60,000). Total separations increased in
almost all industries, with the largest increases in accommodation and food services (+3,999,000) and
other services (+839,000). The number of total separations increased in all four regions. (See table 3.)

In March, the number and rate of quits decreased to 2.8 million (-654,000) and 1.8 percent, respectively.
Total private quits fell to 2.6 million (-640,000), while government edged down to 177,000 (-14,000).
Quits decreased in a number of industries, with the largest decreases in accommodation and food
services (-145,000) and retail trade (-137,000). The number of quits decreased in all four regions. (See
table 4.)

The number and rate of layoffs and discharges increased in March to a series high of 11.4 million
(+9,526,000) and 7.5 percent, respectively. The number of layoffs and discharges increased for total
private to 11.2 million (+9,445,000) and for government to 175,000 (+80,000). The layoffs and
discharges level increased significantly in all but one industry, with the largest increases in
accommodation and food services (+4,136,000) and retail trade (+908,000). The number of layoffs and
discharges increased in all four regions. (See table 5.)

The number of other separations edged up in March (+50,000). Other separations increased for total
private (+57,000) and edged down for government (-7,000). The largest increase in other separations
was in other services (+17,000). The number of 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 March, hires totaled 69.8 million and separations totaled 76.9 million,
yielding a net employment loss of 7.1 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired
and separated more than once during the year.