The Bureau of Labor Statistic's March 11 release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data for January showed a distinct lack of dynamism in the labor market: the level of hires and separations, expressed as a share of employment matched record lows for the series (which goes back to December 2000).
Net hiring - hires less separations - was just 0.1% of employment. Turnover - hires plus separations - was just 5.5% of employment, a record low for the series. Openings fell to 2.1% of employment (from 2.2%). That's better than the 2009 average of 1.8%, but matches the 2010 average. The numbers for the private sector were similarly tepid. January was not a sizzling month for employment.
Also, the relationship between job openings and unemployment, which had gotten out of whack, has gotten somewhat back into whack. Based on the historical relationship, unemployment in December "should" have been 7.7%, not its actual 9.4%. That gap narrowed substantially in January; the expected unemployment rate was 8.0%, vs. the actual of 9.0%. There were 5.02 unemployed persons per job opening in January, compared with 4.96 in December - and a 2002-2007 average of 2.03.