US job openings, quits rise, pointing to modest hiring ahead

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers posted more jobs in November and quitting also increased — signs that job gains and wages may increase in the months ahead.

The number of available jobs rose 1.3 percent in November from the previous month to 5.5 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s below a post-recession peak of 5.8 million in April. Hiring rose 1.1 percent to 5.2 million.

The number of Americans who quit their jobs increased 1.4 percent to nearly 3.1 million, the second-highest total since the Great Recession. Quits are generally a good sign that workers are confident enough to leave their positions for new jobs. Rising quits can also point to higher pay, since most people take new jobs with bigger paychecks.

The figures echo last week’s jobs report, which showed a moderate gain of 156,000 new jobs in December and the biggest annual wage gains in more than seven years.

Last week’s jobs figure is a net gain after layoffs, quits and retirements are subtracted from overall hiring.

Tuesday’s data comes from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, and are more detailed and provide a fuller view of the job market

With the unemployment rate at 4.7 percent, near a nine-year low, employers are facing pressure to raise pay in order to keep and attract workers.

The number of available jobs is also high, which suggests businesses are having trouble finding the workers they need to fill their open positions. That trend may also force employers to offer bigger paychecks.

Job openings rose in only two industries: Hotels and restaurants and state and local government. Openings were little changed or down slightly in manufacturing, construction, retail, financial services, and education and health.

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