U.S. companies in March posted the highest number of job openings in nearly four years, a sign that hiring could strengthen in the coming months after slowing this spring.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that employers advertised 3.74 million job openings in March. That’s up from a revised 3.57 million in February. The March figure was the highest since July 2008, just before the financial crisis erupted that fall.
The increase in job openings suggests that weaker hiring gains in March and April could be temporary. It usually takes one to three months for employers to fill openings.
Even with the increase, roughly 12.7 million people were unemployed in March. That means an average of 3.4 people competed for each open job. While that’s far better than the nearly 7-to-1 ratio when the recession ended. In a healthy job market, the ratio is usually around 2 to 1.
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