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Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Job Openings and Labor Turnover News Release and Data

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) provides estimates of job openings, hires, and separations that serve as demand-side indicators at the national level. If you have questions, contact the JOLTS staff.

Monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover news releases and COVID-19 impact summaries

Questions and Answers

  1. How are people who are absent from their jobs counted by JOLTS? The reference period of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey is the pay period that includes the 12th of the month for employment, the last business day of the month for job openings, and the entire calendar month for hires and separations. Although BLS does not estimate employment in the JOLTS program, BLS does collect employment during the collection process to validate reported job openings, hires, and separations. Also, employees who are not actually separated are not counted as separations by JOLTS.
  2. How are people who are laid off from their jobs counted by JOLTS? Employees who are laid off from their job at any time during the month are reported in the layoff and discharges measure, and in total separations. See the JOLTS frequently asked questions for detailed information on the data definitions.
  3. Will data collection for JOLTS be impacted by COVID-19? JOLTS data collection for the February reference month was not affected by COVID-19. Data for March and subsequent months were affected. BLS modified the JOLTS alignment procedure to more accurately capture changes in separations and hires due to COVID-19. More details are in the JOLTS news releases.
  4. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 on JOLTS estimates? The primary goal for JOLTS is to provide accurate estimates of job openings, hires, and separations. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 on job openings, hires, or separations because its effects cannot be separated from other influences on the economy, particularly at the national level. Changes for a specific month against those of recent months may provide a general indication of the impacts at the national level. BLS also can provide information on overall program response rates relative to the time period before the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts in the United States.
  5. Will JOLTS suppress any cells, series, indexes, or observations due to the COVID-19 pandemic? The JOLTS program does not expect an impact on publication cell suppression.
  6. How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the JOLTS measures of error? Because the JOLTS program uses the median standard error over 5 years, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 5-year median standard errors for 2021 was not significant. JOLTS error measures for 2021, released in March 2021, include data from all months in 2020.

Last Modified Date: September 8, 2021