Job openings in the U.S. climbed in December to the second-highest level on record, a sign demand for labor is steady.
The number of positions waiting to be filled rose by 261,000 to 5.61 million from a revised 5.35 million in November, the Labor Department reported Tuesday in Washington. The reading was just behind the 5.67 million reached in July that was the highest since data began in 2000. Construction companies and manufacturers were among employers looking to boost staff.
The labor market remains a bright spot for the economy, a sign businesses may be looking past soft global growth in anticipation of a pickup in demand in the months ahead. Continued hiring will be needed to help solidify an acceleration in wages — which have been stagnant for much of the recovery — and provide a lift to consumer spending.
Despite softness in other parts of the growth picture, “the job market is still hanging in there,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “That’s a very encouraging sign for the broader economy.”
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