Trying to be fair and balanced.... it does appear we have some positive news in the job market as the number of job openings now has recovered to fall 2008 levels, when the wheels really fell off the U.S. economy. While the ratio of job seekers to job openings is still 4.4 to 1, that is a sharp reduction from the 7 to 1 we saw nearly 2 years ago (ironically July 2009 which is when the recession officially ended). A healthy job market should show a ratio of 2:1. Also, as I have written many times the past few months, let's keep in mind the quality of jobs coming back has not been of the highest quality [Feb 3, 2011: CNNMoney - Jobs Coming Back, but the Quality Stinks!], but in this era any job is better than no job I suppose.
- Businesses in February posted the largest number of job openings in more than two years, evidence that hiring is picking up as the economy grows. The Labor Department said Wednesday that employers advertised 3.1 million available jobs that month, the most since September 2008. That was the height of the financial crisis, when Lehman Brothers collapsed.
- The competition for those jobs is easing, though still intense. The department's report shows that there were 4.4 people, on average, competing for each available job in February. That's down from nearly 7 in July 2009, but still above the approximately 2 to 1 ratio that exists in a healthy economy.
- Job openings are usually filled within one to three months after posting, which means the report can be an indicator of future hiring activity.
- The number of jobs advertised has increased by nearly 1 million since they bottomed out in July 2009, a month after the recession ended. But they are still well below the 4.4 million openings that were advertised in December 2007, when the recession began.
- Openings rose sharply in professional and business services, which include accountants, legal services and temporary help agencies. Education and health care and hotels and restaurants also posted big jumps in job postings. Openings in state and local governments, which fell sharply last month, edged up slightly.