Job openings jumped in April to the highest level in 16 months, a sign that hiring by private employers is healthy despite last week's disappointing jobs report.
The number of jobs advertised at the end of April rose to 3.1 million from 2.8 million in March, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That's the most openings since December 2008.
Private employers accounted for the entire net gain. The government's advertising for jobs decreased, despite the hiring of hundreds of thousands of census workers in May.
Job openings have risen by about 740,000 since bottoming out at 2.3 million in July. But they remain far below pre-recession levels of about 4.5 million openings per month.
The competition for jobs remains tough. There were 5 unemployed people, on average, for each job opening in April. That's down from 5.4 in the previous month, but well above pre-recession levels of 1.8 jobless workers per opening.
The biggest increases in available jobs were in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and education and health services. Government job openings fell by 36,000.
The report comes after the Labor Department said Friday that the economy generated 431,000 jobs in May. But almost all were census hires. Only 41,000 of the new jobs were in the private sector.
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