Job openings rise in January

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Although job openings rose in January, the hiring rate was slightly lower, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Thursday report.

There were 5.5 million job openings in January, up from 5.28 million job openings in December, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) report. Economists expected 5.5 million job openings in January, according to a Reuters survey.

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.

The hiring rate in January came in at 3.5 percent, a modest decline. The number of hires also decreased to 5 million. This decline was seen across several industries including health care and social assistance, professional and business services, as well as accommodation and food services.

A worker walks in a tunnel in the East Side Access project, one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects currently underway in the United States, in New York City.
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Private sector jobs, including construction and wholesale trade, saw the biggest gains during the month. Regionally, the Midwest saw an increase in job openings.

The turnover rate in January was 3.4 percent or 4.9 million total separations, ticking down from December. Accommodation and food services saw the greatest decline in turnover, according to the Labor Department report.

The figures are an echo of previous data that show the job market stumbled in January, likely in part because of harsh winter weather. Net hiring, as reported in the separate monthly jobs report, fell in January before rebounding in February.

Still, the increase in available jobs in the JOLTS data suggests employers are determined to add workers and points to more hiring in the coming months.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.