WASHINGTON - Job openings rose in several sectors of the economy in February, including retail, manufacturing, transportation, restaurants and hotels, the Labor Department said.
The report is
consistent with other surveys showing hiring is picking up in those
areas. It also echoes recent national employment reports, which
showed broad job gains in March.
Total job openings, meanwhile,
declined in February, the department said. That's a sign that hiring
remains sluggish even though employers are starting to add workers as
they gain more confidence that the recovery is taking hold.
government's Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey illustrates the
churn that takes place in the job market, even when hiring is weak.
Employers posted 2.7 million job openings at the end of February. That
was about 130,000 fewer than in the previous month. But it still
exceeded the record lows of 2.4 million last year.
you're moving in the right direction on job openings," said Michael
Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase. But "as today's numbers
remind us, it's not a straight line up."
Retailers listed 320,000
openings, up from 255,000 the previous month, the department said.
Manufacturers posted 17,000 more openings.
The economy created
162,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said last week. Yet the
unemployment rate remained stuck at 9.7 percent as the number of people
looking for work rose.Other surveys also point to job gains. The
Conference Board said last week that online job postings have risen by
about 650,000 in the past five months to more than 3.9 million.
BMW Manufacturing Co., meanwhile, said that it plans to hire
about 200 temporary production and logistics workers at its Greer,
S.C., plant. The plant makes BMW's X5 and X6 models and will begin
production of the X3 later this year.
Still, about 14.8 million
people were jobless in February. That's nearly double the total from
before the recession began in December 2007. It means about 5.5 people,
on average, are competing for each available job. That's higher than in
January, but down from the record 6.2 reached in November. Only 1.8
people, on average, were competing for each opening in December 2007.
Labor Department's report also showed that layoffs declined sharply in
February. They fell to 1.8 million from 1.95 million in January.
Layoffs have fallen back to pre-recession levels, but job openings are
recovering more slowly. Job openings remain about 40% below
their pre-recession levels of about 4.5 million.