Tags: Job Openings Tumble to Three-Month Low

Job Openings Tumble to Three-Month Low

Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011 12:41 PM

Job openings in the U.S. decreased in December to the lowest level in three months, signaling a sustained labor-market recovery will take time to develop.

The number of positions waiting to be filled fell by 139,000 to 3.06 million, the fewest since September, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The number of people hired also dropped, as did the number of workers fired.

Employers added a fewer-than-forecast 36,000 jobs in January while the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 9 percent, the lowest level since April 2009, the Labor Department reported last week. Growth in the world’s largest economy will need to accelerate to make up for the almost 9 million jobs lost in the recent recession.

“We’re just digging ourselves out of a real big hole, and it’s going to take time,” Omair Sharif, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “The labor market is recovering gradually. The unemployment rate will slowly grind lower.”

Job openings decreased 4.3 percent in December, the biggest drop since May, from a revised 3.2 million in the prior month, the Labor Department report showed.

The decline was led by a 100,000 drop among professional and business services, which include accountants, computer systems experts and temporary-help agencies. Construction firms followed with 63,000 fewer openings in December.

Government agencies showed the biggest increase in help wanted, which climbed by 114,000.

Vying for Jobs

Compared with the 14.5 million Americans who were unemployed in December, today’s figures indicate there were 4.7 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the recession began in December 2007. The number of jobless fell to 13.9 million last month, pushing the unemployment rate down, the Labor Department reported Feb. 4.

Today’s report helps shed light on the dynamics behind the monthly employment figures. Private payrolls, which exclude government positions, rose by 50,000 workers in January, the Labor Department figures showed last week.

Employers took on 4.18 million workers in December, down 30,000 from the previous month, according to today’s report. Total firings, which exclude retirements and those who left their jobs voluntarily, decreased to 1.84 million from 1.85 million a month before.

An increase in the number of people voluntarily leaving jobs may be one sign Americans feel more confident about finding other work. About 1.99 million people quit their jobs in December, representing 48 percent of all separations. That was up from 1.75 million, or 42 percent, in December 2009.

Job Churning

In the 12 months ended in December, the economy created a net 900,000 jobs, representing about 51 million hires compared with about 50.1 million separations, today’s report showed.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on Feb. 3 said the U.S. needs to see faster job growth for a sufficient time before policy makers can be assured the economic recovery has taken hold.

“With output growth likely to be moderate for a while and with employers reportedly still reluctant to add to their payrolls, it will be several years before the unemployment rate has returned to a more normal level,” Bernanke said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. “Until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established.”

Fed policy makers have signaled they will stick to their plan to keep buying as much as $600 billion in debt through June to spur growth.

Sales Positions

Lowe’s Cos., the second-biggest U.S. home-improvement retailer, plans to add 8,000 to 10,000 weekend sales positions to improve staffing at the busiest time of the week. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based chain also will cut 1,700 middle-management jobs as profit growth trails that of larger rival Home Depot Inc.

The two largest U.S. automakers are expanding. Ford Motor Corp., based in Dearborn, Michigan, plans to hire more than 7,000 workers in the next two years. Larger rival General Motors Co., based in Detroit, will add a third shift and about 750 jobs to its assembly plant in Flint, Michigan.

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Job openings in the U.S. decreased in December to the lowest level in three months, signaling a sustained labor-market recovery will take time to develop.The number of positions waiting to be filled fell by 139,000 to 3.06 million, the fewest since September, the Labor...
Job Openings Tumble to Three-Month Low
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2011-41-08
Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011 12:41 PM
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