This is another one of my stream of clicks posts where I look up data and post the charts as I find them.

I really have even less “insight” here than in other posts. Vaguely I am looking for evidence of PSST type effects, but more than that I am just trying to get a handle for what’s going on.

One of the things that interests me is quits. They are pro-cyclical which we would expect. However, the interesting thing is that they so dominate layoffs and discharges that the number of “jobs lost” goes down in a recession.

Here is the basic effect I am talking about

FRED Graph

Indeed, my hunch is that this more than any other measure will tell us how good the labor market is. Unexpectedly, the more separations there are the better the labor market is.

As you can see separations never fully recovered from the Dot-Com burst and every felt like the 2000s were weak for jobs. As of now separations have not recovered from the Great Recession and everyone feels like the job market is stuck in neutral.

This makes sense when we breakout separations into layoffs versus quits.

FRED Graph

As you can see, in normal times most separations are quits. Even now, more people are quitting than are being laid off. More over the movement in the separation level is dominated by quits.

So lets disaggregate quits a bit

Here are straight levels.

FRED Graph

Lots of co-movement. Lets do percentage change from a year ago. I like this better than the rate stat the BLS provides.

FRED Graph

Again, quits seem to be moving all together in percentage change terms.

I want to take a quick look at openings. I think openings minus quits might be an important stat, but since quits are all moving together we can take a quick look and see if opening are the same.

FRED Graph

Strong co-movement here as well.

The two spikes are different though. The abnormal spike in quits was in finance and the abnormal spike in openings was in construction. I am not sure I would read to much into that, however.

Lastly I want just glance at layoffs, to see if the co-movement is as strong.

FRED Graph

This seems significantly noiser. Less co-movement. Interestingly the only thing I see very strongly is the general and unusual dip after the Great Recession.