Va. had record 328,000 job openings in September
Va. had 8,000 more job openings than record set in July
Virginia had 328,000 job openings in September and 123,000 quits, 4,000 fewer quits than the April 2021 peak, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data released Nov. 19.
The September job openings number set a record previously set in July, when there were 320,000 openings. The Virginia job openings rate rose to 7.7% in September, a new series high. Nationwide in September, the rate of job openings was little changed at 6.6%.
Nationwide, the industries that led in September job openings growth were health care and social assistance; state and local government, excluding education; wholesale trade; and information. Job openings decreased in state and local government education; real estate; educational services; and other services.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines job openings as positions that are open on the last business day of the reference month. A job is open only if it meets three conditions: A specific position exists and there is work available for that position; the job could start within 30 days, whether the employer can find a suitable candidate during that time; and the employer is actively recruiting workers from outside the establishment to fill the position.
The number of hires, defined as additions to the payroll during the month, in Virginia rose by 6,000 to 190,000 in September. The series high of 265,000 occurred in June 2020, and the low of 77,000 in April 2020. Nationwide, the number of hires remained at about 6.5 million for September.
The number of quits — voluntary separations initiated by the employee — in Virginia rose 12,000 to 123,000, the highest level since the record set in April. The Virginia quits rate increased to 3.1% and neared the April peak of 3.3%.
Across the U.S., the number of quits rose to a series high of 4.4 million and increased in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, state and local government education and other services. The September quits rate hit a high of 3%.
The number of layoffs and discharges — involuntary separations initiated by the employer — in Virginia declined by 7,000 to 31,000, down 90% from the pandemic high in March 2020. Nationwide, the number and rate of layoffs and discharged remained at about 1.4 million in September, and the layoffs and discharges rate was unchanged at 0.9%.
“September’s JOLTS indicators suggest that Virginia employer demand for workers remained at highly elevated levels as the number of job openings reached their highest level in the past twenty years and the number of quits was also near record highs, indicating that labor markets remained in an unusual state of disequilibrium,” according to the report. “At the same time, hiring ramped up in September in the commonwealth, which could indicate that progress has begun being made in alleviating the labor shortage that has been seen across the nation over the last year.”
The hires-per-job-openings ratio (HPJO) was 0.6 in both Virginia and the U.S. The HPJO is a proxy for time to fill positions or the efficiency in filling open jobs in a labor market. The HPJO at the nonfarm-industry level has decreased steadily since the end of the Great Recession, and by January 2015, the ratio was regularly below 1.0, indicating less efficiency.
In September, there was less than one (0.5) unemployed worker per job opening in the state, the lowest rate since February 2020. The unemployed per job opening ratio, or job seekers ratio, stood at 3.1 in April 2020.