Job openings in November at 5.5 million, hires and separations little changed

Production of a Jeep Cherokee at the Toledo North Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio.
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Monthly job openings — a gauge of the U.S. economy that's closely watched by Fed chair Janet Yellen — were little changed in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday.

Monthly job openings were 5.5 million on the last business day of November, a rate of 3.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS).

Economist expected 5.56 million, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates. Job openings totaled 5.53 million in October.

In November, the total number of job openings in state and local government, excluding education, increased to more than 32,000. The number of private job openings was little changed but was more than 48,000 higher for government positions.

The bureau said the number of hires and separations was little changed at 5.2 million and 5 million, respectively. The bureau also said the layoffs and discharge rate was unchanged at 1.1 percent in November.

The report is a key barometer of economic conditions, measuring job postings in different sectors, and the number of hires and layoffs.

Separately, U.S. wholesale inventories in November rose slightly more than previously reported. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that wholesale inventories rose 1 percent after slipping 0.1 percent in October. That was the largest increase since November 2014.