Tags: US | Job | Openings | Increase | Two-Year | High

US Job Openings Increase to Two-Year High

Tuesday, 07 Dec 2010 11:08 AM

Job openings in the U.S. rose in October for the first time in three months, reaching the highest level in two years, a government report showed.

Openings increased by 351,000 to 3.36 million, the most since August 2008, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The number of people hired decreased from the prior month and separations also fell.

Today’s report underscores government figures that showed the economy gained 172,000 jobs in October, the biggest payroll increase in five months. A Labor Department report last week showed the world’s largest economy last month created fewer jobs than forecast and the jobless rate climbed.

“There are opportunities out there,” Tom Porcelli, a senior economist at RBC Capital Markets Corp. in New York, said before the report. “It’s clearly not enough.”

Openings increased 12 percent in October from a revised 3.01 million in the prior month, the Labor Department said.

The rate of job openings rose to 2.5 percent from 2.3 percent in September, according to today’s report. Professional and business services, which includes accountants, computer systems experts and temporary-help agencies, had the biggest increases in available employment, followed by education and health care. Openings dropped at construction firms and government agencies.

15 million Unemployed

Compared with the 14.8 million Americans who were unemployed in October, today’s figures indicate there were 4.4 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the recession began in December 2007. The number of jobless climbed to 15.1 million last month, pushing the unemployment rate up to a seven-month high of 9.8 percent, the Labor Department reported last week.

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 November, less than the most pessimistic forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, Labor Department figures showed on Dec. 3.

Employers took on 4.2 million workers in October, down 12,000 from the previous month, according to today’s report. Total firings, which exclude retirements and those who left their jobs voluntarily, dropped to 1.72 million from 1.81 million a month before.

12-Month Gain

In the 12 months ended in October, the economy created a net 700,000 jobs, representing about 50.8 million hires compared with about 50 million separations, today’s report showed.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has been among those saying the recovery has been too slow, keeping unemployment too high.

“At the rate we’re going, it could be four, five years before we are back to a more normal unemployment rate” of about 5 percent to 6 percent, Bernanke said in an interview broadcast Dec. 5 by CBS Corp.’s “60 Minutes” program.

Fed policy makers last month began buying Treasury securities as part of a plan to pump as much as $600 billion into the financial system through June. Should the economy not strengthen by then, the purchase of more bonds than planned is “certainly possible,” Bernanke said.

The economy hasn’t grown to the point where demand can’t be met with current staff at Illinois Tool Works Inc., chief executive officer David Speer said in an interview on Dec. 3.

Hiring Not ‘Significant’

Next year “there will be some modest level of improvement in employment in industrial manufacturing in the U.S.,” Speer said. “I don’t think anything significant for us, because I still see us with enough capacity in terms of labor right now to not have to make any significant additions.”

ITW, the maker of Hobart food mixers and Duo-Fast nail guns, may do more hiring in 2012 if “we progress as I suspect we will,” Speer said. The company last week forecast business revenue, which doesn’t include sales from acquired companies, will increase 5 percent to 7 percent in 2011 over this year.

Cuts among state and local governments may deepen as municipalities try to balance budgets. Florida, facing a $2.5 billion budget gap next year, may eliminate 5 percent of its state workforce to save costs, Governor-elect Rick Scott said in a Bloomberg television interview Dec. 3.

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Job openings in the U.S. rose in October for the first time in three months, reaching the highest level in two years, a government report showed. Openings increased by 351,000 to 3.36 million, the most since August 2008, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The...
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