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The CES/JOLTS Divergence: How to Apply the Monthly Alignment Method to Help Close the Gap

Edmond Cheng, Nicole Hudson, Jurgen Kropf, and Jeannine Mercurio


Both the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey are conducted on a monthly basis by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data collected by each of these surveys differs in that JOLTS focuses on: number of job openings, hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations; while, CES focuses on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls. Conceptually, the difference between JOLTS hires and separations should be very similar to the CES net employment change, but over its history the implied JOLTS series has exhibited a large and growing divergence from CES trends. As a result, a monthly alignment method based on seasonally adjusted JOLTS and CES data was developed, which mitigates the diverging trends between the series while preserving their seasonality.