Topic Archives: Job Openings, Hires, and Separations

Put Your Writing Skills to Work

Editor’s note: This post was written by Alan Zilberman, an economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are countless ways for people to express themselves through the written word. Social media, blogs, comment boards, and even private diaries are a way to flex the writing muscle. Most writers are happy to offer their thoughts for free, but the sheer quantity of media outlets and demand for content creates opportunities in occupations that put writing skills to work.

Writing occupations communicate ideas and concepts through written language. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

  • Writers and authors compose everything from novels to blog posts. They also write short stories, advertising copy, movie or TV scripts, and plays.
  • Reporters and correspondents, also known as journalists, include workers that write articles for newspapers, magazines, or Internet publications such as online only news services. They may report the news or offer their own opinions.
  • Editors plan, assign, and review everything from newspaper articles to novels. They review writing for syntax, spelling, and “bigger picture” concerns like style and storytelling.

All of these occupations are projected to have job openings in 2024, and all typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry, usually in English, journalism, or communications.

Writing occupation employment, wages, and projected job openings
Occupation 2014 Employment Percent self employed in 2014 Job openings due to growth and replacements,
2014–24
Median annual wage, 2016 Typical education needed for entry

Reporters and correspondents

49,300 14.8% 15,900 $37,820 Bachelor’s degree

Editors

117,200 13.6% 42,500 $57,210 Bachelor’s degree

Writers and authors

136,500 65.7% 26,100 $61,240 Bachelor’s degree

About two-thirds of writers and authors were self-employed in 2014, as were about 1 in 6 editors and reporters and correspondents. Most wage and salary workers in these occupations work in publishing industries, such as magazines, newspapers, or book publishers. People who write and edit for a living can often do so from their homes.

Median annual wages for these occupations ranged from $61,240 for writers and authors, to $57,210 for editors, to $37,820 for reporters and correspondents. (Wages are for May 2016. These wages do not include self-employed workers.) Wages for reporters and correspondents are much higher in metropolitan areas where many publishers are based, such as the New York and Washington, DC, metropolitan areas.

In order to get their work published, a writer or journalist typically proposes an assignment, also known as a “pitch,” to the appropriate editor. Editors are the gatekeepers for the outlets where they work; they read pitches, decide which ones are best for their readers, and approve them accordingly. Editors also take a writer’s initial draft and improve it so it is clearer and more evocative. By researching what editors want, writers can develop a portfolio of their “clips,” which will then increase their chances to build their writing careers. A newer alternative for writers and journalists to get their work published is to self-publish on the Internet, such as in a blog or in an e-book marketplace. If a blog or e-book gains enough attention or popularity, self-published writers could transition into more lucrative writing deals.

Explore all of these occupations and many more in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Why This Counts: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey

Looking solely at net employment change is similar to looking at the surface of a lake. You’ll see ripples and changes, but there’s a whole lot of activity going on underneath the surface. Using JOLTS data—the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey—provides a peek at what’s going on below the surface of net employment change.

The basics

JOLTS is a monthly survey of 16,000 establishments that asks employers to provide information on the number of job openings (as of the last business day of the month) and the total number of hires and separations that occurred throughout the month. By asking for the total number of hires and separations over the entire month, we can get a sense of just how many jobs started and ended within a month. For example, in February 2017 there were 5.3 million hires and 5.1 million separations. That’s approximately the population of Colorado moving in and out of jobs in a single month!

A chart showing trends in the numbers of hires and job separations from 2007 to 2017.

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below.

Understanding the churn

You may be familiar with the headline payroll employment number that comes out each month, with information on how many net jobs were gained or lost. However, JOLTS data give us insight on what goes on beyond the monthly employment data. JOLTS data show us just how dynamic the U.S. labor market is and can illuminate which industries have persistent unmet demand for workers.

Movement into and out of jobs is often called “churn.” As the rates of hires and separations climb, this increased “churn” can signal a healthy labor market where workers can move in and out of jobs with relative ease. Similarly, when rates of hires and separations fall, workers may have more difficulty moving from job to job.

JOLTS data can also give us insight into labor market changes before the net employment figures can. In the last recession, the hiring rate started to decelerate before payroll employment slowed.

Further insight into industries

Labor market activity differs by industry. By using the combination of hires and job openings rates, we can explore which industries have persistent low-level demand for workers and which industries may have a high unmet demand for workers. When the openings rate exceeds the hiring rate, the industry has an unmet demand for workers.

Consider jobs in construction, retail trade, and accommodation and food services. There are fewer job openings than hires in these industries, suggesting that employers can easily find workers. Many jobs in these industries require minimal training or experience, which means it is easy to find workers. It may also mean that workers don’t stay with one employer for very long. JOLTS data confirm this. These industries have high churn, with large numbers of hires and large numbers of separations. Trends in hires and separations tend to move together, meaning employers are frequently replacing workers.

A chart showing hires rates and job separations rates in construction, retail trade, and accommodation and food service from 2007 to 2017.

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below.

In contrast, many jobs in health care and financial activities require more training and experience, suggesting it may be more difficult to find qualified workers. In these industries, job openings are greater than hires—employers are always looking for qualified workers. These industries also exhibit low churn, stemming from low numbers of hires and separations as a share of industry employment. This suggests workers remain with their employers for longer periods of time.

The professional and business services industry presents an unusual case, perhaps because of the diverse set of occupations within the industry. Included in this industry are many professional service workers, such as those in computer service and engineering firms. But the industry also includes temporary help supply firms and building services, such as janitorial and landscaping firms. Until recently, the industry as a whole had traditionally had more hires than job openings, suggesting an ease in attracting labor. This may be due in part to the number of lower-skilled jobs in this industry. But several times over the past year, job openings have exceeded hires, suggesting that employers need qualified workers. Perhaps this reflects the higher-skilled jobs in this industry. This recent trend bears watching.

A chart showing hires rates and job separations rates in financial activities, health care, and professional and business services from 2007 to 2017.

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below.

Jobs in government and education exhibit both low hiring and low job openings rates. These lower rates indicate that few workers are needed in these industries—workers may tend to stay in these jobs for long periods of time.

For more info on JOLTS, see www.bls.gov/jlt. For more in-depth information on the interaction between job openings and hires, see Charlotte Oslund’s article, “Which industries need workers? Exploring differences in labor market activity.”

 

Number of hires and separations, February 2007 to February 2017, seasonally adjusted
Month Hires Separations
Feb 2007 5,202,000 5,094,000
Mar 2007 5,380,000 5,123,000
Apr 2007 5,158,000 5,138,000
May 2007 5,268,000 5,080,000
Jun 2007 5,187,000 5,065,000
Jul 2007 5,075,000 5,118,000
Aug 2007 5,106,000 5,105,000
Sep 2007 5,145,000 5,031,000
Oct 2007 5,227,000 5,129,000
Nov 2007 5,162,000 5,031,000
Dec 2007 4,968,000 4,926,000
Jan 2008 4,868,000 5,005,000
Feb 2008 4,943,000 5,010,000
Mar 2008 4,766,000 4,762,000
Apr 2008 4,875,000 5,121,000
May 2008 4,602,000 4,728,000
Jun 2008 4,751,000 4,900,000
Jul 2008 4,471,000 4,713,000
Aug 2008 4,522,000 4,815,000
Sep 2008 4,316,000 4,751,000
Oct 2008 4,454,000 4,895,000
Nov 2008 3,954,000 4,605,000
Dec 2008 4,218,000 4,814,000
Jan 2009 4,158,000 4,974,000
Feb 2009 4,011,000 4,674,000
Mar 2009 3,730,000 4,536,000
Apr 2009 3,853,000 4,655,000
May 2009 3,793,000 4,146,000
Jun 2009 3,675,000 4,192,000
Jul 2009 3,854,000 4,297,000
Aug 2009 3,744,000 4,060,000
Sep 2009 3,859,000 4,084,000
Oct 2009 3,767,000 3,951,000
Nov 2009 3,992,000 3,873,000
Dec 2009 3,806,000 3,989,000
Jan 2010 3,880,000 3,894,000
Feb 2010 3,781,000 3,830,000
Mar 2010 4,182,000 3,949,000
Apr 2010 4,082,000 3,892,000
May 2010 4,376,000 3,831,000
Jun 2010 4,064,000 4,223,000
Jul 2010 4,116,000 4,278,000
Aug 2010 3,910,000 4,009,000
Sep 2010 3,978,000 4,026,000
Oct 2010 4,061,000 3,784,000
Nov 2010 4,101,000 3,843,000
Dec 2010 4,155,000 4,026,000
Jan 2011 3,910,000 3,908,000
Feb 2011 4,061,000 3,838,000
Mar 2011 4,291,000 3,980,000
Apr 2011 4,218,000 3,924,000
May 2011 4,116,000 4,035,000
Jun 2011 4,297,000 4,094,000
Jul 2011 4,139,000 4,082,000
Aug 2011 4,168,000 4,120,000
Sep 2011 4,320,000 4,115,000
Oct 2011 4,239,000 4,011,000
Nov 2011 4,244,000 4,001,000
Dec 2011 4,234,000 3,994,000
Jan 2012 4,292,000 4,010,000
Feb 2012 4,419,000 4,175,000
Mar 2012 4,465,000 4,134,000
Apr 2012 4,299,000 4,260,000
May 2012 4,445,000 4,336,000
Jun 2012 4,432,000 4,367,000
Jul 2012 4,269,000 4,138,000
Aug 2012 4,447,000 4,360,000
Sep 2012 4,238,000 4,059,000
Oct 2012 4,299,000 4,194,000
Nov 2012 4,393,000 4,171,000
Dec 2012 4,360,000 4,038,000
Jan 2013 4,422,000 4,297,000
Feb 2013 4,509,000 4,156,000
Mar 2013 4,293,000 4,113,000
Apr 2013 4,533,000 4,376,000
May 2013 4,572,000 4,363,000
Jun 2013 4,409,000 4,267,000
Jul 2013 4,529,000 4,384,000
Aug 2013 4,732,000 4,517,000
Sep 2013 4,681,000 4,537,000
Oct 2013 4,444,000 4,288,000
Nov 2013 4,588,000 4,268,000
Dec 2013 4,500,000 4,335,000
Jan 2014 4,615,000 4,443,000
Feb 2014 4,627,000 4,436,000
Mar 2014 4,758,000 4,452,000
Apr 2014 4,812,000 4,518,000
May 2014 4,796,000 4,565,000
Jun 2014 4,817,000 4,552,000
Jul 2014 5,001,000 4,784,000
Aug 2014 4,839,000 4,627,000
Sep 2014 5,078,000 4,882,000
Oct 2014 5,118,000 4,927,000
Nov 2014 5,027,000 4,633,000
Dec 2014 5,165,000 4,789,000
Jan 2015 5,027,000 4,843,000
Feb 2015 4,991,000 4,705,000
Mar 2015 5,090,000 4,986,000
Apr 2015 5,095,000 4,906,000
May 2015 5,143,000 4,812,000
Jun 2015 5,162,000 5,011,000
Jul 2015 5,136,000 4,849,000
Aug 2015 5,129,000 4,958,000
Sep 2015 5,150,000 5,067,000
Oct 2015 5,304,000 4,983,000
Nov 2015 5,323,000 5,003,000
Dec 2015 5,504,000 5,223,000
Jan 2016 5,117,000 5,033,000
Feb 2016 5,447,000 5,183,000
Mar 2016 5,297,000 5,040,000
Apr 2016 5,038,000 4,962,000
May 2016 5,153,000 5,101,000
Jun 2016 5,176,000 4,940,000
Jul 2016 5,328,000 5,001,000
Aug 2016 5,288,000 5,059,000
Sep 2016 5,179,000 4,942,000
Oct 2016 5,200,000 5,041,000
Nov 2016 5,263,000 5,075,000
Dec 2016 5,303,000 5,084,000
Jan 2017 5,424,000 5,247,000
Feb 2017 5,314,000 5,071,000

Hires rates and job openings rates in selected industries, February 2007 to February 2017, seasonally adjusted
Month Construction hires rate Construction job openings rate Retail trade hires rate Retail trade job openings rate Accommodation and food services hires rate Accommodation and food services job openings rate
Feb 2007 4.2 3.5 5.1 2.8 7.2 4.1
Mar 2007 6.1 2.6 5.0 2.7 6.9 4.4
Apr 2007 5.0 2.8 4.7 2.6 7.3 4.0
May 2007 5.3 2.7 4.9 2.3 6.9 4.4
Jun 2007 5.6 2.2 4.6 2.8 7.0 4.4
Jul 2007 5.2 2.6 4.6 2.8 6.9 4.5
Aug 2007 5.3 2.1 4.7 2.5 6.8 4.8
Sep 2007 5.1 1.6 4.9 2.6 6.7 4.7
Oct 2007 5.3 1.6 5.0 2.3 6.9 4.6
Nov 2007 5.0 1.1 5.2 2.7 6.6 4.4
Dec 2007 5.0 1.3 4.8 2.5 6.7 4.5
Jan 2008 5.0 1.7 4.5 2.4 6.3 4.3
Feb 2008 5.1 1.5 4.6 2.3 7.0 4.0
Mar 2008 5.4 1.3 4.4 2.4 6.2 4.0
Apr 2008 5.2 1.6 4.4 2.5 6.3 4.0
May 2008 4.8 2.3 3.9 2.4 6.4 3.9
Jun 2008 5.3 1.6 4.5 1.9 6.1 3.7
Jul 2008 4.9 1.7 4.4 2.4 6.0 3.4
Aug 2008 5.6 1.2 4.4 2.3 5.9 2.8
Sep 2008 4.7 1.7 4.1 1.7 5.9 3.1
Oct 2008 5.4 1.0 4.2 2.4 5.8 2.9
Nov 2008 4.9 0.7 3.8 2.3 5.3 2.5
Dec 2008 5.1 0.7 4.2 1.9 5.2 2.4
Jan 2009 5.4 0.6 3.7 2.2 5.2 1.8
Feb 2009 5.1 1.0 3.6 2.0 5.4 2.5
Mar 2009 4.9 0.7 3.6 1.7 5.0 2.2
Apr 2009 5.3 0.4 3.9 1.4 4.9 2.2
May 2009 5.4 0.7 3.8 2.1 5.3 2.1
Jun 2009 4.3 0.9 3.4 1.8 4.9 2.1
Jul 2009 5.5 1.0 3.4 1.1 4.7 1.8
Aug 2009 4.3 1.0 3.7 1.6 4.8 1.6
Sep 2009 5.5 1.1 3.8 1.9 4.6 2.3
Oct 2009 5.4 1.0 3.4 1.3 4.5 2.0
Nov 2009 5.5 0.8 3.6 1.6 5.0 2.1
Dec 2009 6.0 1.0 3.7 1.7 4.8 2.1
Jan 2010 5.6 0.9 3.8 1.6 4.9 2.2
Feb 2010 5.0 1.1 3.8 1.9 4.7 2.0
Mar 2010 7.4 1.4 4.5 2.3 5.0 1.7
Apr 2010 6.6 1.8 3.7 1.8 4.9 2.1
May 2010 5.5 1.5 3.7 1.8 4.8 2.1
Jun 2010 5.0 1.5 3.9 1.8 4.7 2.0
Jul 2010 6.2 2.1 4.0 1.7 4.9 2.3
Aug 2010 5.9 0.9 3.7 1.6 4.8 2.7
Sep 2010 5.8 1.3 3.9 1.5 5.0 2.1
Oct 2010 6.4 1.2 3.9 1.7 4.9 2.4
Nov 2010 6.2 1.2 3.9 1.8 4.8 2.3
Dec 2010 6.8 0.6 3.4 2.0 4.7 2.3
Jan 2011 5.1 1.1 3.9 1.9 4.7 2.5
Feb 2011 6.3 0.8 3.9 1.8 4.8 3.0
Mar 2011 6.9 1.2 4.0 1.8 5.5 2.8
Apr 2011 6.7 2.2 4.0 2.2 5.1 2.4
May 2011 6.8 2.1 3.9 2.1 4.7 2.5
Jun 2011 6.8 1.2 4.0 2.3 5.3 2.6
Jul 2011 6.2 1.6 4.0 2.3 5.3 2.1
Aug 2011 5.9 1.7 3.6 2.2 5.2 2.8
Sep 2011 6.7 1.5 3.9 2.2 5.3 3.0
Oct 2011 5.9 1.3 3.8 2.3 5.2 3.0
Nov 2011 5.6 1.1 3.8 2.1 5.4 3.0
Dec 2011 5.6 0.8 3.4 2.2 5.3 3.2
Jan 2012 5.8 1.4 3.9 2.4 5.4 3.2
Feb 2012 6.0 1.0 3.8 2.3 5.1 2.9
Mar 2012 5.4 1.6 3.9 2.5 5.8 3.1
Apr 2012 5.2 2.1 3.9 2.2 5.2 3.2
May 2012 5.8 1.5 3.9 2.3 5.3 3.2
Jun 2012 6.3 1.7 3.9 2.2 5.2 3.4
Jul 2012 6.4 1.4 3.8 2.1 5.3 3.3
Aug 2012 6.0 2.0 4.1 2.4 5.5 3.0
Sep 2012 6.2 1.4 4.0 2.4 5.3 2.7
Oct 2012 5.6 1.8 4.0 2.5 5.4 3.2
Nov 2012 6.9 1.2 3.9 3.0 5.2 3.5
Dec 2012 5.4 1.1 3.9 2.6 5.4 3.5
Jan 2013 5.8 2.0 4.0 2.7 5.6 3.4
Feb 2013 6.5 1.9 4.2 2.6 5.5 3.5
Mar 2013 6.1 1.8 3.7 2.7 5.5 3.5
Apr 2013 5.1 2.3 4.1 2.9 6.1 3.3
May 2013 5.7 2.1 4.2 3.1 5.4 3.3
Jun 2013 5.6 2.3 4.1 3.8 5.4 3.5
Jul 2013 5.3 2.0 4.1 3.0 5.4 3.7
Aug 2013 5.1 2.1 4.6 2.9 5.3 3.6
Sep 2013 5.4 1.9 4.4 3.1 5.5 3.8
Oct 2013 5.5 2.1 4.5 2.8 5.5 3.5
Nov 2013 5.1 1.7 4.7 2.8 5.3 3.7
Dec 2013 4.7 1.4 4.8 2.7 5.3 4.0
Jan 2014 4.8 2.1 4.1 2.7 5.6 3.9
Feb 2014 4.4 1.7 4.7 2.9 5.8 4.0
Mar 2014 4.4 2.0 4.6 3.2 5.6 4.2
Apr 2014 5.0 2.1 4.9 3.4 5.6 4.4
May 2014 5.3 2.4 5.0 2.8 5.8 4.9
Jun 2014 4.5 2.7 4.9 3.0 5.9 4.8
Jul 2014 6.4 2.5 5.0 2.8 5.7 4.0
Aug 2014 5.3 2.3 4.6 3.3 5.5 4.7
Sep 2014 4.8 1.7 4.6 3.0 5.9 4.6
Oct 2014 5.1 2.3 5.0 3.1 6.0 4.9
Nov 2014 5.1 1.7 5.0 3.2 6.1 4.3
Dec 2014 6.3 1.5 5.0 3.4 6.3 4.6
Jan 2015 5.7 2.2 4.9 3.2 5.8 5.2
Feb 2015 5.1 2.4 4.5 3.3 5.8 4.9
Mar 2015 4.9 2.6 4.9 3.2 6.0 4.7
Apr 2015 5.3 2.6 4.7 3.4 6.2 5.0
May 2015 4.9 2.6 5.0 3.5 6.1 4.8
Jun 2015 5.2 2.3 4.9 3.4 6.2 4.4
Jul 2015 4.7 2.3 4.9 3.8 6.3 5.2
Aug 2015 5.0 2.4 4.7 3.7 6.5 4.8
Sep 2015 5.3 1.6 4.6 4.0 6.5 4.7
Oct 2015 5.0 2.0 4.7 3.5 6.5 5.0
Nov 2015 5.2 1.3 4.9 3.2 6.6 4.8
Dec 2015 4.7 1.9 4.9 3.2 6.9 4.8
Jan 2016 4.4 2.3 4.8 3.9 5.9 4.8
Feb 2016 5.2 2.8 5.3 3.7 6.8 5.1
Mar 2016 5.3 3.0 4.7 3.7 6.4 5.1
Apr 2016 5.0 2.7 4.3 3.6 6.1 4.9
May 2016 4.7 2.7 4.4 3.6 6.3 4.8
Jun 2016 4.2 2.5 4.5 3.7 6.2 4.6
Jul 2016 5.0 3.4 4.5 3.8 6.3 4.6
Aug 2016 5.1 2.7 4.6 3.7 6.3 4.8
Sep 2016 4.7 3.4 4.8 3.8 6.0 4.6
Oct 2016 5.1 2.8 4.7 3.9 6.1 4.5
Nov 2016 5.0 2.6 4.2 3.9 6.7 4.7
Dec 2016 5.9 2.0 4.2 3.9 6.4 4.5
Jan 2017 5.7 2.0 4.3 3.5 6.4 4.6
Feb 2017 5.4 2.4 4.8 3.3 6.2 5.0

Hires rates and job openings rates in selected industries, February 2007 to February 2017, seasonally adjusted
Month Financial activities hires rate Financial activities job openings rate Professional and business services hires rate Professional and business services job openings rate Health care and social assistance hires rate Health care and social assistance job openings rate
Feb 2007 3.0 3.0 5.5 3.9 2.9 4.0
Mar 2007 3.4 3.9 5.5 4.3 3.0 4.2
Apr 2007 2.7 2.8 5.0 4.6 2.9 4.3
May 2007 3.4 3.3 5.4 4.1 3.1 4.4
Jun 2007 3.0 3.2 4.9 4.1 3.0 4.5
Jul 2007 2.9 3.4 5.1 3.7 2.8 3.9
Aug 2007 3.1 3.6 5.1 4.0 3.0 4.3
Sep 2007 3.0 3.3 5.1 4.0 2.9 4.8
Oct 2007 3.0 3.3 5.4 4.1 3.0 4.1
Nov 2007 2.8 2.8 5.4 4.0 3.0 4.2
Dec 2007 2.9 3.2 5.1 4.1 2.7 4.2
Jan 2008 2.9 3.8 4.8 4.0 3.0 4.0
Feb 2008 2.9 2.7 4.7 4.0 3.2 4.5
Mar 2008 2.6 3.0 4.5 4.1 3.1 4.3
Apr 2008 2.8 2.7 5.1 4.1 3.1 4.1
May 2008 2.4 2.4 4.5 3.4 2.9 4.1
Jun 2008 2.7 2.3 5.3 4.0 2.7 4.0
Jul 2008 2.5 2.6 4.4 3.6 2.8 3.9
Aug 2008 2.6 2.6 4.5 3.5 2.8 3.7
Sep 2008 2.6 2.3 4.3 3.4 2.7 3.4
Oct 2008 2.2 2.0 4.5 3.2 2.9 3.4
Nov 2008 2.5 2.4 4.2 3.0 2.6 3.3
Dec 2008 2.0 2.4 4.8 3.2 2.7 3.3
Jan 2009 2.4 2.3 4.4 3.1 2.8 3.1
Feb 2009 2.2 2.5 4.3 3.1 2.8 3.0
Mar 2009 2.3 2.3 3.6 2.5 2.6 2.8
Apr 2009 1.7 1.6 4.0 2.4 2.5 2.8
May 2009 2.0 2.2 4.0 2.4 2.4 2.9
Jun 2009 2.0 1.9 3.9 2.4 2.6 2.8
Jul 2009 2.4 1.7 4.2 2.6 2.6 2.9
Aug 2009 2.2 1.6 3.8 2.1 2.8 2.8
Sep 2009 1.9 2.2 4.2 2.6 2.8 3.1
Oct 2009 2.3 2.0 4.2 2.2 2.5 2.9
Nov 2009 1.8 2.1 5.1 2.5 2.6 2.8
Dec 2009 2.3 1.7 4.1 2.6 2.5 2.9
Jan 2010 2.2 2.1 4.5 2.4 2.3 3.2
Feb 2010 2.1 1.9 4.4 2.3 2.4 2.8
Mar 2010 1.9 2.0 4.4 2.5 2.5 2.6
Apr 2010 2.3 2.8 4.7 3.0 2.5 2.7
May 2010 2.3 2.7 4.7 3.4 2.4 2.6
Jun 2010 2.4 2.6 5.0 2.8 2.6 2.5
Jul 2010 2.1 2.8 4.8 3.2 2.7 2.7
Aug 2010 2.0 3.1 4.7 3.5 2.4 2.4
Sep 2010 2.2 2.9 4.5 3.3 2.6 2.7
Oct 2010 2.2 3.1 4.5 3.5 2.4 3.1
Nov 2010 2.0 3.2 4.7 3.7 2.5 2.8
Dec 2010 2.4 2.5 5.4 3.4 2.5 2.8
Jan 2011 2.0 2.7 4.8 2.7 2.1 2.6
Feb 2011 1.9 2.7 5.0 3.4 2.3 2.8
Mar 2011 2.1 2.5 5.3 3.4 2.3 3.0
Apr 2011 1.7 3.1 5.1 3.2 2.4 3.0
May 2011 2.0 2.5 5.1 3.3 2.4 3.0
Jun 2011 2.1 2.7 4.8 3.5 2.6 3.1
Jul 2011 2.1 2.9 4.8 4.3 2.4 3.1
Aug 2011 2.0 2.3 5.1 3.3 2.5 3.1
Sep 2011 2.0 2.2 5.2 4.1 2.3 3.0
Oct 2011 2.2 2.9 5.0 3.4 2.4 3.2
Nov 2011 2.2 2.0 4.9 3.0 2.5 3.3
Dec 2011 2.2 2.4 4.9 4.2 2.4 3.2
Jan 2012 2.1 3.0 4.6 4.4 2.6 3.4
Feb 2012 2.2 2.5 5.4 3.5 2.8 3.5
Mar 2012 2.3 2.9 5.2 4.4 2.6 3.5
Apr 2012 2.4 2.7 4.8 3.3 2.4 3.5
May 2012 2.3 3.0 5.2 3.7 2.7 3.5
Jun 2012 2.3 2.8 5.4 3.9 2.6 3.9
Jul 2012 2.2 3.1 4.8 3.7 2.5 3.3
Aug 2012 2.5 3.2 4.8 4.0 2.5 3.3
Sep 2012 2.6 3.5 4.7 3.3 2.4 3.6
Oct 2012 2.4 3.3 4.7 3.5 2.5 3.5
Nov 2012 2.8 2.9 4.9 3.2 2.5 3.5
Dec 2012 2.2 3.2 4.7 3.3 2.6 3.5
Jan 2013 2.7 2.9 4.9 3.7 2.6 3.0
Feb 2013 2.9 4.4 4.6 4.0 2.6 3.5
Mar 2013 2.3 3.4 4.6 3.7 2.6 3.5
Apr 2013 2.4 3.5 4.9 3.6 2.8 3.6
May 2013 2.7 3.8 4.9 3.3 2.7 3.4
Jun 2013 2.4 3.8 5.2 3.3 2.4 3.4
Jul 2013 2.7 3.9 5.3 3.1 2.6 3.3
Aug 2013 2.7 3.3 5.5 3.6 2.7 3.6
Sep 2013 2.8 3.0 5.2 3.6 2.7 3.2
Oct 2013 2.4 3.0 4.6 4.1 2.5 3.2
Nov 2013 2.3 2.7 5.2 3.6 2.5 3.2
Dec 2013 2.2 2.9 4.9 3.7 2.5 2.9
Jan 2014 2.0 2.8 5.2 3.4 2.7 3.4
Feb 2014 2.2 2.9 5.2 4.1 2.5 3.5
Mar 2014 2.5 3.0 5.3 3.6 2.7 3.6
Apr 2014 2.3 3.2 5.1 4.2 2.8 3.5
May 2014 2.4 3.5 4.9 4.1 2.6 3.9
Jun 2014 2.3 3.8 5.1 4.2 2.6 3.8
Jul 2014 2.4 3.6 5.3 4.3 2.8 4.1
Aug 2014 2.7 3.9 5.5 4.7 2.5 4.5
Sep 2014 2.6 3.1 5.8 4.3 2.9 4.1
Oct 2014 2.2 3.9 5.6 4.7 2.9 4.4
Nov 2014 2.8 3.3 5.1 5.1 2.8 3.8
Dec 2014 2.8 3.2 5.1 5.0 2.9 4.4
Jan 2015 2.5 3.6 5.2 4.6 2.8 4.3
Feb 2015 2.0 4.1 5.3 4.6 2.9 4.4
Mar 2015 2.4 3.2 5.4 5.0 2.8 4.1
Apr 2015 2.6 4.5 5.3 5.5 2.9 4.9
May 2015 2.4 3.7 5.4 5.4 2.8 4.5
Jun 2015 2.5 3.3 5.3 5.6 2.7 4.6
Jul 2015 2.3 4.5 5.1 5.5 2.9 5.2
Aug 2015 2.2 4.0 5.1 5.2 2.8 4.9
Sep 2015 2.4 3.6 5.2 5.5 2.9 5.0
Oct 2015 2.5 3.8 5.5 5.4 3.0 4.8
Nov 2015 2.6 4.1 5.4 5.6 3.0 5.0
Dec 2015 2.6 4.5 5.9 5.3 3.0 4.9
Jan 2016 2.6 4.0 5.6 5.4 2.7 5.3
Feb 2016 2.9 4.0 5.4 5.3 2.9 4.7
Mar 2016 2.7 3.7 5.4 6.1 2.9 4.8
Apr 2016 2.3 3.9 5.5 4.7 2.6 4.8
May 2016 2.2 3.4 5.5 5.7 2.8 4.8
Jun 2016 2.4 3.5 5.0 4.9 2.9 5.0
Jul 2016 2.2 3.7 6.0 5.9 2.9 4.9
Aug 2016 2.3 3.8 5.5 4.9 2.9 4.8
Sep 2016 2.1 3.9 5.5 5.3 2.7 4.9
Oct 2016 2.0 3.7 5.4 5.1 2.9 5.2
Nov 2016 2.1 3.7 5.3 4.9 3.0 5.2
Dec 2016 2.3 4.1 5.6 4.6 2.9 5.2
Jan 2017 2.6 4.4 5.5 4.9 2.9 5.2
Feb 2017 2.2 4.2 5.2 4.7 2.8 5.6

Why the Unemployment Rate Still Matters

Just like your body, the economy is a superbly complex system. When you visit doctors or other healthcare providers, they routinely take several measurements — height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature. Tracking these vital signs over time can lead you and your healthcare providers to seek further tests. Yet, even when your healthcare providers need more information, they continue to take the basic measurements.

In much the same way, the government routinely measures the health of the economy. Here at BLS, we specialize in tracking labor market activity, working conditions, productivity, and price changes. One of our most important measures is the national unemployment rate. Since it is measured the same way each month, year after year, changes in the rate can be an important signal of changes in the labor market and economy.

We realize, of course, that the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the full story. It isn’t meant to. Much like your temperature is a necessary measurement, its usefulness increases when viewed with other measures. When we release the unemployment rate each month, we also publish five alternative measures of labor underutilization to help assess labor market conditions from several perspectives.

Chart showing trends in alternative measures of labor underutilization.

In addition, the source for the unemployment data, the Current Population Survey, provides a wealth of information about workers, jobseekers, and people who aren’t working or looking for work. For example, we also get information about trends in labor force participation, a topic that has received much public attention in recent years. BLS releases thousands of other measures monthly, quarterly, and annually, depending on the topic.

For example, if you want to know how adult Black men are performing in the labor market, we have a stat for that. Ditto for people with a less than high school education or veterans with service-connected disabilities.

And if you want to know how employers are doing (say, how many job openings they’ve posted and how many workers have been fired or quit their jobs in the past month), check out our Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Want to know what is happening in your local area? Not a problem. Each month BLS releases state employment and unemployment data and metropolitan area data too.

We invite you to visit our website or contact one of our expert economists next time you have a question about the health of labor market—or your favorite economic “symptom.”

Labor Market Status of U.S. Military Veterans

As we continue to celebrate our veterans this month, here are our most up-to-date statistics about veterans in the civilian labor force.

  • After reaching 9.9 percent in January 2011, the unemployment rate for veterans was 4.3 percent in October 2016.
  • The unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans — who served on active duty at any time since September 2001 — reached 15.2 percent in January 2011 and was 4.7 percent in October 2016.
  • The peak unemployment rate for nonveterans was 10.4 percent in January 2010; their rate was 4.5 percent in October 2016.
  • There were 471,000 unemployed veterans in the United States in the third quarter of 2016; 22 percent of them were ages 18 to 34.
  • More veterans work in government than in any other industry; 21 percent of all veterans and 27 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans work for federal, state, or local government. By comparison, 13 percent of employed nonveterans work in government.
  • After government, the next largest employers of veterans are manufacturing and professional and business services (about 12 percent each).

Now let’s take a look at some data that may help veterans who are looking for work or considering a career change.

Looking to move?

In 2015, the unemployment rate for veterans varied across the country, ranging from 1.9 percent in Iowa to 7.7 percent in the District of Columbia.

Map of unemployment rates for veterans by state in 2015

What industries have the most job openings?

There were 5.5 million job openings in September 2016. Here’s how they break down by industry.

Chart showing job openings by industry in September 2016

What are the fastest-growing jobs?

Thank you, veterans, for your service. Check out our website at www.bls.gov 24/7 or give our information office a call at 202.691.5200. We also have regional information offices available to help you. BLS has the data you need to make wise decisions.

Entrepreneurship Facts: Announcing New Research Data on Job Creation and Destruction by Firm Age and Size

I’m delighted to announce that we now have new research data on job gains and losses by firm age and size across industries and states.

For many years, policymakers, economists, and others have debated whether small or large firms create more jobs. Our Business Employment Dynamics program, which measures gross job gains and losses to help us understand net employment changes, informs that debate with data on firm size. A related question is whether startups or older establishments create more jobs. Again, BLS has a stat for that. We have data on employment and business survival rates by the age of the establishment.

While it’s useful to know the age of an establishment—that is, a single location of a business—for some questions, we need to know the age of the firm. A firm may include several or even many establishments. To understand entrepreneurship in particular, we want to know how both the age and size of firms affect job gains, job losses, and employment growth.

With these new data we can answer many interesting questions, including:

  • How much do older firms contribute to job growth? Firms 10 years or older created 800,000 jobs, or 29 percent of the total 2.7 million net employment gain in the year ending March 2015. See the chart below.
  • How much do startup firms contribute to job growth? In the year ending March 2015, startup firms—firms less than 1 year old—created 1.7 million jobs or 60 percent of total employment growth. More than half these jobs were from firms with fewer than 10 employees.
  • How does the age or size of the firm affect the rate of business closures? In 2015, 788,000 establishments closed. Of these, 55 percent were from firms 10 years or older; 16 percent were from firms 5 to 9 years old; and 28 percent were from firms less than 4 years old. Of the establishments that closed from March 2014 to March 2015, 91,000 of them, or 12 percent of the total, had 500 or more employees.
  • Which firm-age group accounted for most job losses during the last two recessions? Firms 10 years or older lost the most jobs during both recessions. Again, see the chart below.

net-job-changes-by-firm-age

The new research data measure annual gross job gains and gross job losses by firm age and size from March of one year to March of the next. We get the data on firms from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages by linking individual establishments over time. Besides firm age and size, we also measure establishment age and size. We have two methods to examine size. One method compares the current size of firms or establishments with the size at the beginning of the year (the base-sizing method). The other method compares the current size with the average size over the year (the average-sizing method).

I really want to know how you like these new data and what we can do to make them more useful. I invite you to explore the data and share your comments. Your feedback will help us develop the dataset and possibly move it into our regular production. Please write your comments below, or you can email the Business Employment Dynamics staff.