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Job openings in U.S. rise to almost 11M as 4.3M workers quit; both figures near record highs

By Megan Hadley
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Job openings in U.S. rise to almost 11M as 4.3M workers quit; both figures near record highs
Construction workers perform maintenance on 44th Street near Times Square in New York City on December 29, 2021. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Employers across the United States had nearly 11 million job openings by the start of January after more than 4 million workers left their positions in December, government figures from the Labor Department showed Tuesday.

The department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, said that employers posted 10.9 million openings for the month of December -- well above prepandemic levels, but lower than the record of 11.1 million last July.

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The new figure is a slight increase over November, when the JOLTS showed 10.6 million openings nationwide.

Tuesday's assessment also showed that 4.3 million U.S. workers left their jobs in December -- a slight decrease from the record 4.5 million in November.

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According to the report, about 89,000 people quit jobs in healthcare and social assistance; 64,000 in accommodation and food service and 44,000 in construction.

The department said the Northeast, South and Midwest regions all saw increases in workers quitting their jobs.

"Hires and total separations decreased to 6.3 million and 5.9 million, respectively," the report said. "Within separations, the quits rate was little changed at 2.9%. The layoffs and discharges rate was little changed at 0.8%, a series low."

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Last month, the department said that the U.S. economy added about 200,000 jobs for the month of December -- substantially fewer than most economists predicted. However, it also showed that the national unemployment rate at 3.9%, which was the sharpest 12-month decline in history.

"It's the first time the unemployment rate as been under 4% in the first year of the presidential term in 50 years. Years faster than experts said we would be able to do it," President Joe Biden said at the time, also noting that almost 6.5 million jobs have been added since he took office early last year.

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