There were 5.028 million job openings on the last business day of December, slightly improved from 4.847 million in November. Hires (5.148 million) and separations (4.886 million) were little changed in December. Within separations, the quits rate (1.9 percent) and the layoffs and discharges rate (1.2 percent) were unchanged.

There were 5.148 million hires in December, slightly higher than November’s 5.054 million. This was the highest level of hires since November 2007. The hires rate in December was 3.7 percent.

Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations are referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations include separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.
There were 4.9 million total separations in December, little changed from November. This was the highest level of separations since October 2008. The separations rate was 3.5 percent.

There were 2.717 million quits in December, little changed from November. The quits rate in December was 1.9 percent. Quits increased in construction and durable goods manufacturing. The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.

Overall, the JOLTS numbers portray a slowly improving jobs market with job openings rising along with hires.