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Job Openings at 14-Year High, but Hiring Slows

MarketWatch (03/10/15) Jeffry Bartash

The number of open jobs in the U.S. registered a 14-year high in January, reports the U.S. Department of Labor, but companies filled positions at the slowest pace since the end of last summer. Job openings increased 2.5% in the first month of 2015 to a seasonally adjusted 5 million to mark the highest level since 2001. Available jobs were 28% higher compared with one year ago. While hiring rose an even faster 3.5% to 5.24 million, that is the slowest rate since last August. Poor winter weather may be one cause, but companies also complain that it has become increasingly harder to find workers with the precise skills they need.

The latest employment survey from the National Federation of Independent Business, for example, says the number of job openings that went unfilled rose to an eight-year high. At the end of January there were 1.8 unemployed workers per job opening, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, up from 1.78 in December. With the labor market recovering, Americans are somewhat more willing to quit their current jobs to take another position elsewhere. The quits rate edged up to 2% in January to match a postrecession high.