U.S. job openings rose by 47,000 in March to 2.69 million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, May 11. Though the number was little changed from the previous month, job openings have been slowly trending upward since their July 2009 low of 2.3 million.
While the number of workers leaving their jobs due to voluntary departures, layoffs, retirements and firings also rose by 47,000 in February, another 231,000 workers were hired.
The continued surge in openings signals that employers may expand staff in the coming months, according to Bloomberg.
Economists watch these numbers closely because the job openings and labor turnover rates don't often reflect changes. In March, for example, the job openings rate was unchanged over the month at 2.0%, the hires rate was little changed at 3.3%, and the separations rate was unchanged at 3.1%.
The number of job openings in March was little different from 12 months earlier for total nonfarm, government, and private jobs in most industries. The greatest increases were seen in the West over the year.
Within the category of professional and business services nationwide, job openings rose by 11,000 during the month, totaling 420,000 jobs versus 413,000 in March 2009. Hiring dropped by 25,000 jobs over the month but showed an increase over the year to 742,000 new hires in March 2010 versus 640,000 the year before. Departures dropped to 708,000 this March compared to 716,000 in February and 782,000 in March 2009.