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Four Job Seekers for Every Opening, Report Shows

MSNBC (01/10/12) Schoen, John

Even as hiring picked up in November, the number of job openings declined, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Employers filled about 4.15 million jobs in November, an increase but still badly lagging the pace in the three years before the recession hit, when employers were signing up more than five million new hires each month. Meanwhile, although hiring picked up in November, job openings shrank by 63,000, to 3.2 million.

With 13.3 million people unemployed in November, there were about 4.2 job seekers for every job opening, down a notch from the revised October ratio of 4.3-to-1. That is approximately triple the ratio seen before the recession hit in December 2007 but down from a peak of 6.9-to-1 in the summer of 2009. The drop in job openings was biggest for professional and business services (down 59,000) and government (down 18,000). Openings were slightly higher in construction (up 3,000), trade/transportation/utilities (4,000), education/health services (13,000), and leisure/hospitality (32,000).