Workers are growing more confident in their ability to find a job, according to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 5.1 million separations from employment on the back of 6.65 million job openings during October, according to the survey.
The BLS considers the number of unfilled jobs to be “an important measure of the unmet demand for labor.”
The bureau considers the number of unfilled jobs — used to calculate the job openings rate — to be “an important measure of the unmet demand for labor” and a complement to unemployment levels.
Even as the data hints at a slowing rate of job openings, the numbers are nevertheless back to December 2017 levels, just before the U.S. trade war hastened the end of the decade-long recovery from the 2008-09 Great Recession.
Whether the 6.65 million openings are a good jumping-off place for the next economic recovery will be determined by the extent of the damage done by the resurgence of COVID-19 infections and deaths, and the need for another shutdown before the vaccines are available for the public.
Layoffs of state and local government employees increased a bit to 70,000 in October, still well below the average of 97,000 per month since March and the 215,000 layoffs at the depths of the pandemic in April.
Those state and local government worker layoffs come on top of the growing ranks of census workers who have lost their jobs. Should there not be another round of fiscal aid targeting state and local governments, these layoffs may continue in early 2021. This is one of the major policy concerns early in the new year.
In the end, such layoffs would have a knock-on effect, causing a decline in local tax revenue and an increase in unemployment payments that will damage the ability of localities to fight the pandemic and protect their residents.
For more information on how the coronavirus is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.