BLS: Job Openings declined in April

From the BLS: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary
There were 3.4 million job openings on the last business day of April, down from 3.7 million in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
...
Although the number of total nonfarm job openings declined in April, the number of openings was 1.0 million higher than at the end of the recession in June 2009.
...
The quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs. In April, the quits rate was unchanged for total nonfarm, and essentially unchanged for total private and government. The number of quits was 2.1 million in April 2012, up from 1.8 million at the end of the recession in June 2009.
The following graph shows job openings (yellow line), hires (dark blue), Layoff, Discharges and other (red column), and Quits (light blue column) from the JOLTS.

This is a new series and only started in December 2000.

Note: The difference between JOLTS hires and separations is similar to the CES (payroll survey) net jobs headline numbers. This report is for April, the most recent employment report was for May.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Click on graph for larger image.

Notice that hires (dark blue) and total separations (red and light blue columns stacked) are pretty close each month. When the blue line is above the two stacked columns, the economy is adding net jobs - when it is below the columns, the economy is losing jobs.

Jobs openings declined in April to 3.416 million, down from 3.741 million in March. However the number of job openings (yellow) has generally been trending up, and openings are up about 13% year-over-year compared to April 2011.

Quits declined slightly in April, and quits are now up about 10% year-over-year. These are voluntary separations and more quits might indicate some improvement in the labor market. (see light blue columns at bottom of graph for trend for "quits").
All current employment graphs


Housing Starts at 708 thousand in May, Single Family starts increase to 516 thousand

From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions
Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000. This is 4.8 percent below the revised April estimate of 744,000, but is 28.5 percent above the May 2011 rate of 551,000.

Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 516,000; this is 3.2 percent above the revised April figure of 500,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 179,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000. This is 7.9 percent above the revised April rate of 723,000 and is 25.0 percent above the May 2011 estimate of 624,000.

Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 494,000; this is 4.0 percent above the revised April figure of 475,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 266,000 in May.
Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts Click on graph for larger image.

Total housing starts were at 708 thousand (SAAR) in May, down 4.8% from the revised April rate of 744 thousand (SAAR). Note that April was revised up from 717 thousand. March was revised up too.  

Single-family starts increased 3.2% to 516 thousand in May. April was revised up to 500 thousand from 492 thousand.

The second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts This shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and that total housing starts have been increasing lately after moving sideways for about two years and a half years.

Total starts are up 55% from the bottom start rate, and single family starts are up 41% from the low.

This was below expectations of 720 thousand starts in May, but the decline was because of the volatile multi-family sector. Single family starts were up, and building permits were up sharply. And previous months were revised up. This is a fairly strong report.

All Housing Investment and Construction Graphs


Look Ahead: Housing Starts

With Spanish 10 year bond yields solidly above 7%, the focus will remain on Europe, especially Greece and Spain. And there will be another meaningless statement from the G20 tomorrow, which reminds me of this great line (and funny commentary) from Matthew O'Brien at the Atlantic: 'Call Me Maybe' Explains the Euro Crisis—Seriously
The only thing more maddening than "Call Me Maybe" is the euro crisis. One is a banal string of saccharine statements, punctuated by swift choruses of action. The other is a pop song. And neither will go away.
• At 8:30 AM ET, Housing Starts for May will be released. The consensus is for total housing starts to increase to 720,000 (SAAR) in May, up from 717,000 in April.

• At 10:00 AM, the BLS will release the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for April. The number of job openings has generally been trending up.


Did I mention Spanish 10 year bond yields are above 7%?


Report: Fed concerned about "Credit divide"

From Jon Hilsenrath at the WSJ: Clogged Credit Weighs on Fed Policy Makers
The housing bust left behind millions of people with credit records damaged by plunging home prices, lost jobs, past overspending or bad luck. Many are now walled off from the low interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve ...
...
Fed officials are weighing new steps at their policy meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, following a period of disappointing jobs growth and financial turbulence in Europe. ... The credit divide factors into their thinking.
Analysts think the policy options under discussion are:

1) extend the extended period to 2015, the current statement reads "the Committee ... currently anticipates that economic conditions ... are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014".

2) Expand and extend the "program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities" (Operation Twist).

3) Launch QE3 (probably with more MBS buying).

None of these programs will bridge the credit divide.  And not much of a hint from a usual source ...


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