U.S. Labor Market Improves with Job Openings Increase

The fewest workers on record were fired in January and job openings rebounded, showing employers are gaining confidence the U.S. expansion will be sustained even as lawmakers battle to trim the federal budget deficit.

There were 1.51 million people let go in the month, down from 1.57 million in December and the least in data going back 12 years, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The number of positions waiting to be filled climbed by 81,000 to 3.69 million after slumping by 177,000 in December.

The report shows recent payroll gains are being driven more by a reduction in dismissals than a surge in hiring, indicating sales are strong enough for companies to retain current staff. Acceleration in employment is needed for the labor market to make further progress and push down the nation’s 7.7 percent unemployment rate.


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