On January 12, 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced the results of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for November 2009. This is a survey of business establishments that collects data on total employment, job openings, hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. It clearly showed that the job market isn't getting better, it's actually getting worse. (Learn more in How Unemployment Affects You (Even If You're Working).)
Rising Unemployment
Job seekers now outnumber openings by more than six to one with over 15 million people looking for jobs and only 2.4 million openings, which is the fewest job openings recorded since the BLS started collecting the data a decade ago.

While layoffs and terminations are part of the problem, the lack of new job creation is significant. From November 2008 to November 2009, monthly job separations fell 500,000 per month, from 4.8 million to 4.3 million, but job openings fell 900,000 per month from 3.3 million to 2.4 million. The difference of 400,000 a month shows that while fewer people are losing their jobs, there are even fewer opportunities to find a new one. (Be prepared if unemployment is in your future. Check out Planning For Unemployment.)

Job openings are submitted by establishments on the last business day of the month and require a specific position to be available where work could start in the next 30 days. It could include full, part time and seasonal work.

Hires are the total number of additions to the payroll occurring at any time during the month, including both new and rehired employees, full-time and part-time, permanent, short-term and seasonal employees, etc.

Separations are the total number of terminations of employment occurring at any time during the month including quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. (Learn more in What You Need To Know About The Employment Report.)

If You're Looking for a Job

Job Openings By Geography
Comparing job openings from November 2008 to November 2009, the South has been hit the hardest, going from 1.267 million job openings to 796,000 for a loss of 471,000. Contrast that with the Northeast and Midwest that lost around 100,000 or the West with 186,000.

Comparing job openings from June 2009 to November 2009, job openings for the South are down about 100,000. The same for the Northeast. But for the Midwest and West, they are up about 50,000, giving some small glimmer of hope in those areas.

Being able to relocate is always helpful in a job search and going west seems to your best chance right now.

Job Openings By Industry
The industries where job openings are still trending down over the last three months include transportation and utilities, retail, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and accommodations and food services.

But there are those industries that are looking up, including construction and manufacturing, and both federal and state government.

It's easier to find work if you are willing to look beyond the cubicle, store or service industry. Look into blue collar jobs or the public sector.

If You are Hoping to Keep Your Job

Terminations by Geography
Comparing total terminations per month from November 2008 to November 2009, the Northeast has been hit the hardest, increasing from 767,000 million terminations per month to 865,000, for an increase of almost 100,000 more terminations per month now than there were a year ago. Contrast that with the other areas of the country, all of which are lower. The terminations per month have fallen in the South, Midwest and West by 177,000, 272,000 and 242,000 respectively.

Comparing terminations from more recent months could provide more clarity. June 2009 to November 2009 shows three regions staying the course, but the South has changed from decreasing terminations to increasing terminations. In other words, more people are losing their jobs in the South now than they were last June, but not as many as the previous November.

Again, it's good to be out west. The terminations are more quickly slowing.

Terminations by Industry
The industries where terminations are trending up over the last three months include retail, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, entertainment, and accommodations and food services.

Industries that are basically flat include manufacturing, transportation and utilities, education, and government. But there are a few industries that are terminating fewer people. Those include construction and retail.

While it's hard to feel any job is safe in this environment, the bottom seems to be close in a few industries and many are flattening out. But we are clearly not out of the woods yet.

Headline numbers don't capture the entire picture. Digging deeper into data like the Jobs Openings and Turnover Report shows a more precise picture and more detail. While this isn't good news for anyone, it's better to know what's really going on than to make a bad decision based on faulty information.

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Latest Labor Numbers: Good News for the Market?

    Some economic numbers are indicating that the labor market is outperforming the stock market. Should investors be bullish?
  2. Budgeting

    Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do Immediately

    If you’ve lost your job, shoring up your finances as best you can will make it easier to get back on your feet again when that next position rolls around.
  3. Credit & Loans

    Top 5 Reasons Why People Go Bankrupt

    The biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical expenses.
  4. Economics

    3 Economic Challenges France Faces in 2016

    Learn about the three most significant economic challenges facing France in 2016. How will France implement reforms to improve its GDP and reduce unemployment?
  5. Economics

    3 Economic Challenges Italy Faces in 2016

    Learn how Italy's economic problems are ingrained and systemic. Unless Italy implements drastic economic fixes, 2016 will be another year of struggle.
  6. Investing

    Is the Number of Workers in the U.S. Declining?

    The number of workers in the U.S. labor force is declining. What caused it and what is the solution?
  7. Investing

    How Labor Force Participation Rate Affects U.S. Unemployment

    While a falling unemployment rate sounds like a good thing, it can actually be indicative of people leaving the labor force because they can't find a job.
  8. Financial Advisors

    Top Tips for the Recently Unemployed

    When a major life change such as a job loss comes up the advice and counsel of a trusted financial advisor can prove to be invaluable.
  9. Investing

    America’s Labor Market: Hidden Distortions and Uncertain Forecasts

    Employment reports released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have a profound impact on political, business, consumer, and investor behavior.
  10. Personal Finance

    No Paycheck Doesn't Necessarily Mean No Income

    If you lose your job, be sure to apply for unemployment benefits. It's not welfare, but an insurance program that you and your employer have already paid into.
  1. What are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

    Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at Bankrate.com, TaxACT.com and Moneychimp.com. Determining ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does comprehensive income get reported on my 1040?

    As of 2015, on the standard IRS Form 1040, your comprehensive or total income is calculated through lines 7-22. This is different ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the key difference between the participation rate and the unemployment rate?

    The participation rate and unemployment rate are economic metrics used to gauge the health of the U.S. job market. The key ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can minimum wages contribute to a market failure?

    The minimum wage acts like a price floor on labor, reducing the supply of jobs available to a level below the market-clearing ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Do rising unemployment rates tend to increase or decrease investor sentiment and ...

    Rising unemployment rates tend to decrease investor sentiment and consumer confidence. Unemployment is one of the most important ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center