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.
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.