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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics/Paulo Cabral Filho, MEDILL

Job openings have been following a positive trend and reached the best number since 2007.

Job openings greatest in almost 7 years

by Paulo Cabral Filho
Jun 10, 2014

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday that the number of job openings on the last business day of April reached 4.5 million, or 3.1 percent of total employment, up from 4.2 million, or 2.9 percent, in March.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, or JOLT, showed that the increase in the number of job openings was more significant in the private sector, up to 4.05 million from 3.75 million, and although there were increases in all sectors, the professional and business services and the leisure and hospitality sectors showed the best results, with rates over 4 percent.

The total openings were greater than what was expected by analysts, who were forecasting it to be a little over 4 million, with no change from March.

“The numbers are a lit bit higher than expected, but what we see is consistent with what we’ve been seeing for several months,” said Mesirow Financial economist Adolfo Laurenti. “It’s not just an improvement, it confirms the trend.”

The results reported Tuesday are the highest since September 2007, three months before the economy went into recession.

“These numbers are long overdue,” said Laurenti. “ And even though they are much closer to what they were in 2006 than ever, there’s still a long way to go.”

The Midwest was the region with the best results jumping to 1.06 million job openings in the last business day of April, from 943,000 in March, reaching a job opening rate of 3.3 percent. These numbers, however, are not that different from other regions. Laurenti explained that there’s probably no special reason for this, as these regional variations can be observed every month.

While the numbers of job openings increased, there were 4.5 million separations in April, among quits, layoffs and discharges, unchanged from March.

“People always think that a high number of separations is a bad thing, but not always” explained Laurenti. “People leave jobs to take jobs, so there are times that this can be seen as a good sign.”