Job openings jump to near a 3-year high

WASHINGTON — The number of available jobs in the United States jumped in December to near a three-year high, supporting other data that show a brighter outlook for hiring.

The Labor Department says companies and governments posted 3.38 million jobs in December. That’s up from the 3.12 million advertised in the previous month and nearly matches the three-year high reached in September.

The report on job openings follows Friday’s optimistic employment figures. Those showed employers added 243,000 net jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.

Even with the gains, 13.1 million people were unemployed in December. That means an average of 3.9 people competed for each open job that month, the first time in four years that ratio was below 4 to 1.

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