The Labor Department released Tuesday its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known in economic circles as JOLTS.
The monthly JOLTS report gives economists a pulse check of the job market. It tells them who’s hiring, and how many people were laid off, or are quitting their jobs.
“It kind of gives you a sense of the underlying movements in the labor market to give you a better sense of what’s going on in the job market,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
Zandi says in the first part of the economic recovery, employers mainly created low and high-wage jobs. But over the past 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen more jobs in the middle of the pay scale. So now, about a third of new jobs are low-wage, a third are high-wage, and a third are right in the middle.
“A lot of government jobs are middle-paying, and of course there were a lot of layoffs there until recently,” Zandi says. “Construction jobs are generally middle-paying. A lot of manufacturing jobs – not all of them, some are high-paying – but some are middle-paying.”
There are winners and losers in the JOLTS report. There have been layoffs lately in the energy sector, because of falling oil prices. But Zandi says the healthcare, retail and construction sectors are all hiring.