More Nonsensical Noise From The BLS

Last week we looked at Janet Yellen’s favorite indicator, the JOLTS, or Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. As I looked into the data, I noticed something strange. The number of hires each month was always greater than the number of job openings. So I had two questions for the Bureau of Liar Statistics.

Hirings Exceed Job Openings - Click to enlarge

First, how is that possible? Second, why did job openings spike in April and hires didn’t? Nothing remotely close to that has occurred in the 13 year history of this data. In fact, the opposite condition, where hires spike and openings don’t, is common. A spike in openings without an equal or greater spike in hires is unheard of.

I found the answer to the seeming anomaly that hires are always greater than openings. They count the total hires throughout the month. The number of openings is as of the last day of the month. Since there are openings and hires every day, and those numbers vary, it follows that the number of openings at the end of the month need not correlate with the sum of the daily hires during the month. It’s understandable that total hires over the entire month might exceed the number of openings during the month. Apparently that’s the norm.

What’s not understandable is that such an extreme spike in job openings would not see at least a somewhat similar move in hirings. It suggests one of two things. Either this was a data error, or these were rocket scientist/financial engineer job openings and the employers couldn’t find enough rocket scientists to fill them.

What do you think?