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February Job Openings Near 5-Year High

Job openings in February rose to 3,925,000, the highest level since May 2008, the ""Bureau of Labor Statistics"":http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/jolts_04092013.pdf (BLS) reported Tuesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The number of persons unemployed for each job opening fell to 3.07, the lowest level since October 2008.

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According to the JOLTS report, which details the ins and out of the labor market, the number of layoffs and discharges in February jumped to 1,615,000, the highest level since last November.

Still, the report showed a continual improvement in the labor market, with 54.3 million hires in the last 12 months, up from 47.6 million in the previous 12 months.

Total hires rose 2.8 percent in February to 4,418,000 in January, also the highest level since November.

The JOLTS report tracks flows within the labor sector, noting hirings and separations by month as well as the number of job openings at the end of a month.

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It is reported by BLS on a one-month lag. In addition to totals, data are reported on major industry sectors.

In the construction industry, for example, there were 9.1 unemployed persons for every job opening in February, down slightly from 9.3 in January but sharply down from 15.6 in December and from 22.4 one year ago.

Just about every other industry sector saw improvement in the number of unemployed persons per job opening in February compared to January. One exception, though, was ""professional business services,"" where there were 1.8 unemployed persons for every job opening in February, down from 2.0 in January.

The number of unemployed persons per job opening has been declining steadily since peaking at 6.7 in July 2009, when the recession “officially” ended. The calculation is a function of the number of people unemployed, which fell to 12,032,000 in February--the lowest level since December 2008--and the number of job openings. Unemployment fell again in March to 11,742,000.

The number of ""quits"" (reflecting individuals who left jobs voluntarily) was flat in February at 2,260,000. ""Quits"" are generally considered a sign of confidence in the ability to get a new job.

The month-over-month increase in the number of layoffs and discharges was the first since November and reflected a reversal of holiday staffing increases. In February 2012, layoffs and discharges also increased.

_Hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S (Sirius 124) on Friday at 6:20 a.m. and again at 9:20 a.m. Eastern time._

About Author: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.
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