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US job openings, total hiring down in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers advertised fewer jobs in December and cut back on hiring, suggesting caution at the end of the year.

The Labor Department says job openings dropped 4.6 percent in December from November to 3.62 million. November’s openings were revised higher.

Employers hired 4.2 million people, a 4.8 percent drop and the fewest in a year.

One positive sign: Employers cut just 1.57 million jobs, the fewest layoffs on records dating back to 2001.

About 12.2 million people were unemployed in December. That means there were 3.4 unemployed people, on average, competing for each open job. In a healthy economy, the ratio is roughly 2 to 1.

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