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January 10, 2017 10:30 AM, EST
Job Openings Increase in November as Hiring Advances
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

Job openings ticked up in November as hiring expanded, signaling steady growth in U.S. employment, a Labor Department report showed Jan. 10.

Key Points

• Number of positions waiting to be filled rose by 71,000 to 5.52 million (forecast was 5.5 million), from 5.45 million in October (revised from 5.53 million), according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS.

• Hiring increased to 5.22 million from 5.16 million; the hiring rate was unchanged at 3.6%.

• Some 3.06 million Americans quit their jobs, up from 3.02 million in the previous month; the quits rate held at 2.1% for a sixth month.

• Layoffs rose to 1.64 million, a three-month high, from 1.57 million.

Big Picture

The results are in line with December employment figures released in the first week of January, which showed payrolls are rising, albeit at a slower clip as the pool of available and qualified workers shrinks. The tight labor market, underscored by elevated job listings and limited headcount reductions, shows conditions are firming for a more sustained pickup in wages.

Economists’ Takeaways

“The pace of labor market improvement is ebbing,” Michael Gregory, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, said in a note before the report. That “is not a 'bad' thing so close to full employment and with wage pressures already on the rise.”

Other Details

• About 1.3 unemployed people were vying for every opening in November, compared with 1.9 people when the recession began at the end of 2007.

• Accommodation and food services and government posted more openings; vacancies in construction and education and health services fell; manufacturing, retail little changed.

• In the 12 months through November, the economy created a net 2.4 million jobs, representing 62.7 million hires and 60.3 million separations.

• Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring.