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Business

Job openings at a five-year high

A job fair for veterans in Georgia last month. Overall hiring has risen 5.2 percent in the past year.

David Goldman/Associated Press/File

A job fair for veterans in Georgia last month. Overall hiring has risen 5.2 percent in the past year.

WASHINGTON — US employers advertised the most job openings in more than five years in October, and the number of people quitting also reached a five-year high.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings rose 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 3.93 million. That is the highest figure since May 2008, three months after the Great Recession began.

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And the number of workers who quit rose 2.5 percent to 2.39 million, the most since October 2008. More workers quitting can signal a healthy job market, because most of those people likely either have a new job or are confident they can find one.

Total hiring slipped 2.6 percent to 4.5 million after reaching a five-year high in September. Still, overall hiring has risen 5.2 percent in the past year.

Another positive sign in the report: Layoffs plunged 16 percent to 1.47 million.

Job openings remain just below the 4 million figure that is thought to be consistent with a healthy job market.

The job market remains competitive, even though the competition is easing. There were 2.9 unemployed people, on average, for each available job in October. That’s down from a ratio of nearly 7 to 1 in July 2009. In a healthy economy, the ratio is typically 2 to 1.

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