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First Cut: March job openings linger near record highs, as do hires; separations remain low and quits active

The data on Job Openings and Labor Turnover for March (JOLTS) — which lags the national employment report by a month — showed job openings lingered near record highs  at 7.488 million in March, with the rate of openings at 4.7%, a notch below the record high of 4.8%. The number of new hires was at 5.660 million, down from the peaks of 2018, but not much changed from the prior month. The rate of new hires in March was 3.8%, unchanged from February. Separations were a bit lower at 5.434 million in March, as was the rate at 3.6% after 3.7% in February.

Voluntary quits — which are part of overall separations — were lower at 3.409 million in March and still very much in line with the recent trend. The rate of quits has been stead at 2.3% since June 2018. Workers’ departure from one job for another is a vote of confidence in their security in the labor market.

Net turnover — new hires minus separations — rose 226,000 in March, also a routine reading within normal month-to-month variation. Hires continue to outpace job losses.

The Beveridge Curve remains consistent with very little slack in the labor market.

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