US job openings hit a two-and-half-year high

City A.M. Reporter
US new job openings rose to their highest level in two-and-a-half years in March, a government report has shown, pointing to a firming US labour market.

Job openings - a measure of labour demand - rose 99,000 to 3.12m, the highest since September 2008, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

It was the first time since November 2008 that job openings have been at or above 3m for two consecutive months.

However, job openings still remain well below the pre-recession level of 4.4m.

The report was the latest to suggest the labour market recovery remains intact, despite a recent rise in first-time applications for state unemployment benefits and a tick up in the unemployment rate in April.

Employers added 244,000 jobs in April, the largest gain in 11 months, building on March's 221,000 increase.

The private sector accounted for about 88.7 per cent of the job openings in March, with most of the vacancies in education and health services, trade, transportation and utilities, and professional and businesses services.

Job hires increased 57 per cent to 4.04m in March. Though hiring has recovered from a low of 3.6m in October 2009, it remains well below the pre-recession level of 5m.

The level of layoffs and discharges were little changed at 1.6m and has declined from a peak of 2.5m in February 2009.