WASHINGTON (AP) - Employers posted a sharp increase in job openings in October, raising hopes that hiring could pick up in the coming months.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that businesses and government advertised nearly 3.4 million jobs at the end of October, up about 12 percent from the previous month. That reverses two months of declines and is the highest total since August 2008, just before the financial crisis intensified.
Overall, the number of advertised jobs has increased by about 1 million, or 44 percent, since the low point of July 2009, a month after the recession ended. But openings are still far below the 4.4 million advertised in December in 2007, when the recession began.
The latest job openings data follows last week's disappointing employment report for November. That showed the economy added a net total of only 39,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent.
But some economists consider Tuesday's report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, to signal how much hiring might take place one to three months after the period covered by the survey.
The JOLTS report shows that the competition for jobs is still tough, but improving. There were, on average, 4.4 unemployed workers for each available job in October. That's down from 4.9 in September and the lowest since January 2009.
But that compares to a ratio of 1.8 in December 2007.