- Hiring, openings and separations (including quits, discharges and layoffs), were up in 2016, but grew at a slower pace than in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).
- Openings in 2016 surpassed hiring numbers, and quits are higher now than before the last recession. The JOLTS collected data from 16,000 nonfarm entities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Job openings in 2016 rose to 6 million, the highest number since the end of 2000. Hires grew by 1.1%, an increase for the seventh consecutive year.
- After a 19.5% jump during the recession, layoffs and discharges dropped by 23.2% from June 2009 through December 2016. These categories of separation decreased slightly in 2016.
The survey confirms that the demand side of the labor market is up, but employers still struggle to fill job openings. Market specialists are debating the causes: Some fault the skills gap, while other say the low unemployment rate means the U.S. is simply reaching "full employment." Speaking at a congressional hearing last month, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen called out the opioid addiction crisis as a barrier to hiring.
The JOLTS also shows that employees have quit their jobs at a higher rate each year since the recession. But growth was slower in 2016 than in the previous two years. Various studies have found that a fair percentage of workers plan to leave their jobs within a short time frame, especially if their onboarding experience is poor.
Frequent voluntary exits present retention problems for employers. A bad boss, low pay, lack of recognition, non-flexible work schedules and workplace misconduct are among the top reasons workers leave. Employee engagement strategies will be ineffective until HR finds out why their own workers leave.