Ratio of jobless to job openings hits four-year low

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:49am EST

A job seeker fills out forms at a table while attending a career fair with prospective employers in New York City, October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

A job seeker fills out forms at a table while attending a career fair with prospective employers in New York City, October 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Job openings edged higher in October, while the ratio of unemployed Americans to every opening fell to the lowest level in four years, signs the slow recovery in the labor market remains on track.

Job openings - a measure of labor demand - climbed to 3.675 million during the month from 3.547 million in September, the Labor Department said on Tuesday in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey.

That meant 3.33 workers sought each open job, marking a good deal of progress from the dark days of 2009, when the ratio was nearly seven workers per one job.

While at its lowest since October 2008, the ratio is still far from normal. Before the 2007-09 recession, which was the deepest since the Great Depression, there were fewer than two workers per job opening.

In another positive sign, more workers quit their jobs in October, the department said. Economists usually see an increase in quits as a sign of confidence in the labor market.

About 2.0 million workers purposely left their jobs in October, up from 1.9 million during the prior month.

The hiring rate in October also rose, to 3.2 percent from 3.1 percent, the Labor Department said.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler)

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