WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies advertised more jobs in April than in any month in six and a half years, a possible harbinger of strong hiring in the months ahead.
Employers posted nearly 4.5 million jobs, up strongly from 4.2 million in March, the Labor Department said Tuesday. It's the largest number of job listings since September 2007.
Companies have been slow to fill openings since the recession ended, so the increase in postings won't automatically lead to more jobs. The report showed that the number of jobs filled in April, 4.7 million, was largely unchanged from March. In the past year, job postings have jumped 16.5 percent, while hiring has risen just 6 percent.
But more job openings typically points to an improving job market. A separate monthly employment report on Friday showed the economy generated 217,000 jobs in May, while the unemployment rate remained at a five-year low of 6.3 percent.
"Today's report appears to confirm that the U.S. labor market has indeed shifted to a period of stronger growth," Jeremy Schwartz, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said in a note to clients.
Almost all the gain occurred in the private sector, while government job openings rose slightly. The biggest increases were in retail, restaurants and hotels, which include mostly lower-paying jobs. Still, the professional and business services category, which includes higher-paying jobs such as accountants and engineers, also posted a big jump.
There are now an average 2.2 unemployed people for each available job. That's down from a peak of 6.7 in July 2009 just after the recession ended and close to the 2 to 1 ratio that is typical of a healthy economy.
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