Gain in job openings shows U.S. labor market improving

Storm’s Impact

For establishments in the storm-affected region that failed to respond to the survey and which met certain criteria, the Labor Department said that it assumed there were no job openings and that the business was closed. “There were very few establishments subject to the special procedures,” the agency said.

In the U.S., the number of people hired rose to 4.34 million in October, pushing up the hiring rate to 3.2 percent from 3.1 percent, today’s report showed.

Openings in construction, manufacturing, the leisure and hospitality industry and retailers contributed to the pickup in available employment. Openings in education and health services cooled.

Macy’s Inc., the second-biggest U.S. department-store chain, said it would add about 2,000 more workers than the 78,000 it hired last year for the holiday shopping season. Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., the world’s largest toy retailer, reported plans to employ 45,000 temporary staff, up 5,000 from the 2011 season.

Job Openings

Considering the 12.26 million Americans who were unemployed in October, today’s figures indicate there are about 3.3 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the recession began in December 2007.

Total firings, which exclude retirements and those who left their job voluntarily, decreased to 1.66 million from 1.73 million a month before.

In the 12 months ended in October, the economy created a net 1.9 million jobs, representing 51.7 million hires and about 49.8 million separations.

The Commerce Department today said the trade gap in October widened 4.9 percent to $42.2 billion from a revised $40.3 billion in September. Exports declined 3.6 percent, the most since January 2009.

The decrease in exports may have been exacerbated by a drop in the sale of soybeans caused by a drought in the Midwest. The decline was nonetheless broad-based, indicating cooling economies from Europe to Asia may be sapping demand for American goods, once a mainstay of the economic recovery.

Industrial Machinery

Foreign purchases of engines, industrial machinery, and petroleum products were among the other categories that also saw decreases. Superstorm Sandy, which closed ports in New Jersey in late October and early November, may have contributed to the decline.

Imports declined 2.1 percent to $222.8 billion, the lowest level since April 2011, from $227.6 billion in the prior month, led by a $1.32 billion plunge in mobile phones, today’s report showed. The decrease followed a surge in September that coincided with the introduction of the latest Apple Inc. iPhone.

Bloomberg News

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