The monthly report from the Labor Department is a closely followed barometer of economic conditions, and measures job postings in different sectors, and the number of hires and layoffs.
Private sector jobs, including construction and manufacturing, saw the biggest gains during the month. Regionally, the West saw job openings tick up.
The hiring rate of 3.7 percent barely changed from November. But the number of hires, 5.4 million, inched high enough to surpass December 2007, the first month of the recession, the BLS said. Professional and business services saw the most notable gains in hiring.
The turnover rate, including quits, layoffs and discharges, was also little changed at 3.5 percent, or 5.1 million separations. Turnover edged up in accommodation and food services industries, and state and local government, according to the Labor Department report.