Job openings fall, but opportunities improve from last year

The number of open jobs fell slightly in August for the second month in a row, but the employment situation compared with last year is looking brighter.

Openings slipped to 3.56 million last month compared with 3.59 million in July, according to the Labor Department. But that’s 13% more than were available at the same time last year, when there were fewer openings in both the public and private sector.

With about 12.5 million people unemployed in August, each job opening last month could have had 3.5 jobless applicants on average, according to the data. In July, there were 3.6 job seekers to each opening; last year, there were 4.4.

Especially fertile ground for job hunters: the construction industry, business services posts, and retail, which is heading into its annual seasonal hiring surge.

The number of hirings increased in August, rising to 4.39 million from 4.28 million the month before and from 3.7 million at the end of the recession in 2009. But the number of firings also swelled, jumping to 1.85 million from 1.58 million, excluding voluntary departures.

Last week, the government said that the nation’s unemployment rate dipped sharply to 7.8% in September, the lowest level in three and a half years. The economy added 114,000 jobs overall, according to the report.


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