WASHINGTON – U.S. employers posted the most job openings in four years in June, a positive sign that hiring may pick up.
The Labor Department said Tuesday job openings rose to a seasonally adjusted 3.8 million in June, up from 3.7 million in May. That’s the most since July 2008. Layoffs fell.
The data follow Friday’s report that said employers in July added the most jobs in five months. A rise in openings could signal better hiring in the coming months. It typically takes one to three months to fill a job.
Even with the increase, hiring is competitive. There were 12.7 million unemployed people in June, or an average of 3.4 unemployed people for each job.
That’s down a bit from May and much lower than the nearly 7-to-1 ratio in July 2009, just after the recession ended. In a healthy job market, the ratio is usually around 2 to 1.
Still, employers have been slow to fill jobs. Since the recession ended in 2009, openings have increased 57 percent. Overall hiring is up only 19 percent.
And openings are still below pre-recession levels of nearly 4 million per month.
Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the department said last week. That followed three months of weak hiring and eased concerns that the economy was stalling.
The government’s monthly employment report, released last Friday, measures net hiring.
Tuesday’s report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, shows the amount of hiring and firing that takes place in the U.S. each month. It provides more details than the monthly jobs report.
For example, layoffs dropped to 1.8 million in June, from nearly 2 million in May. June’s total is below pre-recession levels and indicates that companies aren’t cutting more jobs, despite sluggish growth.