Job openings in February rose to their highest level since the economic downtown in May 2008, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week. There were 4 million job openings at U.S. companies on the last day of February, up from 3.5 the previous month. Hiring and separation rates did not show much change, coming in at 3.3% and 3.1% respectively.
With 52 million hires and 50.1 million separations in the 12 months ending in February 2013, the net employment gain came out to 1.9 million new jobs. These figures include workers who may have moved out of a job and then been hired more than one time over the course of the year.
The “quit rate” — namely, the rate of people who leave their positions voluntarily — held steady at 1.7%, but has generally risen over the past few years in both the accommodation and food services sectors, particularly in the South. Because “quits” are voluntary separations, the rate gives economists a convenient metric for evaluating employee confidence in other job prospects.
According to MarketWatch reports, the quit rate was the highest since October 2008. Yet in February there were 3.6 job candidates for each job opening, while in December 2007, there was an average 1.8 job seekers for each job opening.
Job openings increased in February in health care and social assistance (617,000 compared to 524,000 the previous month), accommodation and food services (458,000 compared to 401,000), and state and local governments 370,000 compared to 340,000), according to the BLS report.
Year-to-year gains were especially prominent in construction (116,000 openings compared to 74,000 one year ago), professional and business services (722,000 now compared to 668,000 a year earlier), accommodation and food services (458,000 today compared to 368,000).
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