jobsAs of the last day of December 2011, 3.4 million jobs were open for the month, up 0.3 million over November, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both the rate of new hire (3.1 percent) and rate of job separation (3 percent) changed little for the month. The rate of job openings has been on the upswing since June 2009; the official end of the recession. However, the job openings rate remains below the 4.4 million jobs rate recorded in December 2007, the start of the recession.

The number of government jobs at all levels remained flat (federal jobs decreased), over the year, but nonfarm and private industry jobs increased over the year. The South saw the largest growth in job openings at 2.5 percent, up 0.3 percent from November. The West experienced a rate increase of 0.2 percent (1.9 percent to 2.1 percent), the Midwest recorded a 0.1 percent rate increase (1.9 percent to 2 percent), and the Northeast saw no rate change, over the month.

Compared to the end of the recession in mid-2009, December’s 4 million new hires represented a 12 percent increase. For the period between December 2010 and December 2011, the hires rate was little changed. Job separations, also referred to as turnover, includes all forms of employment separation including voluntary quits, layoffs and discharges, retirements, and other separations. The rate of separations for December was unchanged over the month and over the year for total nonfarm, private, and government jobs. The number of voluntary quits for the month rested at 1.9 million was little changed over the year for nonfarm and private jobs, but increased for government. Layoffs and discharges numbered 1.6 million for the month, continuing the 17-month trend of sub-1.8 million levels since the start of the recession.

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