Rebound in Job Openings Point to Healing Labor Market

The Labor Department says 3.69 million positions were waiting to be filled in January.

The fewest workers on record were fired in January and job openings rebounded, showing employers are gaining confidence the U.S. expansion will be sustained even as lawmakers battle to trim the federal budget deficit.

There were 1.51 million people let go in the month, down from 1.57 million in December and the least in data going back 12 years, the Labor Department said Tuesday in Washington. The number of positions waiting to be filled climbed by 81,000 to 3.69 million after slumping by 177,000 in December.

Hiring Gain

The number of workers hired in January increased to 4.25 million from 4.2 million in December, leaving the hiring rate unchanged at 3.1 percent, according to today’s report. The rate peaked at 3.4 percent for a couple of months in the first half of 2012.

Job Competition

Considering the 12.3 million Americans who were unemployed in January, the figures indicated there were about 3.3 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the recession began in December 2007.

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