The California economy is often  described  today as stagnant. The latest state unemployment numbers covering  August 2010 showed unemployment  changed  only slightly to  12.4% and minimal movement in net payroll jobs-a loss of 33,500 payroll jobs over the month out of 13,827,900 payroll jobs overall in California.

Of course, below the surface of these numbers , there is enormous movement of jobs and workers.  I have posted several times of the enormous job creation and destruction going on each month in California (roughly 220,000-250,000 jobs continue to be created each month and an equal number destroyed, even during the Recession).  Data recently released in the federal  Department of Labor’s Job Openings  and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) report indicate the Brownian motion of workers among existing jobs. Even in the Recession, workers are moving in and out of jobs at a rapid pace. Some of this movement reflects voluntary separations ("quits") , a greater amount of the movement is due to   involuntary separations ( "layoffs/discharges")

The chart below, taken from this JOLTS report, indicates nationwide the number of Separations-quits and layoffs/discharges-both before and during the current Recession, through July of this year. 

Quits and Layoffs/Discharges in the United States 2000-2010

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010

As might be expected, the number of quits has gone down dramatically during the Recession, while the layoffs/discharges increased. For most of the past decade, quits exceeded layoffs/discharges, and  this dynamic has changed during the Recession.

What is striking, though, is the sheer number of both quits and layoffs/discharges, even during the Recession. In July 2010, nationwide there were 1.9 million quits and 2.1 million layoffs/discharges. Roughly for California, that means over 200,000 instances of quits in the single month of July 2010, and over 230,000 instances of layoffs/discharges.

The flip side of the high number of Separations is the high number of Hirings. In the month of July 2010, alone, nationwide there were 4,234,000 instances of Hires– for California, roughly  465,300 instances of Hires. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that on the last business day of July 2010, there were 3 million job openings nationwide–roughly 330,000 job openings in California.

Overall, for the twelve month period end in July 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Hires totaling 50 million (California-5.5 million) and 50.1 million Separations (California-5.55 million)–not exactly a stagnant employment situation.