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Business in brief: Jobs openings up in January

Washington – Job openings rose sharply earlier this year, evidence that employers are slowly ramping up hiring as the economy improves.

The number of openings in January rose about 7.6 percent, to 2.7 million, compared with December, the Labor Department said. That’s the highest total since February 2009.

The report is a sign that the economy is soon likely to generate consistent job gains. Some economists expect employers to add up to a net 300,000 jobs in March, though as many as a third of them could be temporary hiring for the 2010 Census.

There are now about 5.5 unemployed people, on average, competing for each opening. That’s still far more than the 1.7 people who were competing for each opening when the recession began. But it’s down from just over 6 people per opening in December 2009.

Associated Press

Chevron cutting 2,000 workers

San Ramon, Calif. – Chevron Corp. said Tuesday that it would cut 12 percent of its work force and sell some overseas operations as it retrenches to stem the red ink in its struggling refining, marketing and transportation operations.

The San Ramon, Calif., company said that 2,000 employees would be eliminated out of 17,000 workers in the so-called downstream part of its business.

In addition, Chevron said it would sell its Pembroke refinery in southwest Wales as well as some other of its other businesses in Europe, the Caribbean and parts of Central America.

Chevron has said it would reduce spending by $1 billion this year on its refining, marketing and transportation operations.

Los Angeles Times

Fourth 787 takes flight Sunday

Seattle – Boeing Co. is putting its new 787 through an aggressive flight-testing schedule, with the fourth plane set to begin test flights on Sunday.

Boeing is aiming to deliver the plane to its first customer by the end of this year. By midyear it is aiming to fly six planes a total of 90 hours per week, Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, told analysts on Tuesday.

Albaugh said the testing so far has included more than 100 stalls, some practice with an engine off, and a dive that brought it to Mach .97, close to the speed of sound.

He said the testing program got off to a slow start after the plane first flew in December. But there’s one month to six weeks extra built into the testing schedule in case of other delays, he said.

By the end of March Boeing expects to have the government approval it needs to bring engineers and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration on the test flights, he said.

Associated Press