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Employment picture improved in October

There were more U.S. job openings in October and also more positions filled, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.
/ Source: Reuters

There were more U.S. job openings in October and also more positions filled, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

Job openings as of the last day of October stood at 3.330 million, up 1.1 percent from 3.294 million in September.

Among the major job sectors listed, openings increased in construction, manufacturing, professional/business services, and government, the department said, but fell in leisure and hospitality. There was little or no change in the trade/transportation/utilities and education/health services sectors.

Hirings in October rose 1.5 percent to 4.317 million in October from 4.253 million the previous month, with more positions filled in trade/transportation/utilities, professional/business services, and education/health services.

But hirings in October fell in construction, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and in government.

Total October separations, which include voluntary quits, layoffs, firings and retirements, were virtually unchanged at 4.159 million compared with 4.158 million in September. There were more departures in the construction and trade/transportation/utilities sectors, while all the other major groups had decreases.

The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey is more dated than other gauges of the job market, but it has improved as a measure since the U.S. Labor Department began adjusting the numbers for seasonal variations earlier this year.

The report said the job openings rate rose to 2.5 percent in October from 2.4 percent in September. The rate, which has generally trended upward since August 2003, is calculated by dividing the number of job openings on the last business day of the month by employment plus job openings.

The department said the hire rate, or number of hires in the month divided by employment, rose to 3.3 percent from 3.2 percent in September.

The separation rate, or number of separations in the month divided by employment, was unchanged at 3.2 percent.

The rate of quits, a barometer of how easy it is for workers to change jobs, has held steady at 1.7 percent since February 2004.

Last week, the department said U.S. November nonfarm payrolls rose by 112,000 after a downwardly revised 303,000 increase in October. The November jobless rate fell to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in October.

The department also last week said the number of new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits in the Nov. 27 week rose to 349,000 from 324,000 a week earlier. The four-week average for claims, considered a more accurate barometer of the jobs outlook, also rose, to 336,500 from 332,250.

The Labor Department said its JOLTS report for November will be issued on Jan. 12, 2005. The data are available at: