The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 3.5 million job openings at the end of January 2012. The hires rate was slightly higher than that of separations at 3.1 percent to 3 percent; both unchanged over the month. Despite the upward trend in job openings since the official end of the recession in 2009, the number of job openings has consistently remained below the 4.3 million mark set at the beginning of the recession in December 2007. All told, since the end of the recession job openings have increased by 45 percent.
No region or industry experienced an appreciable increase in hires rate. The total number of hires for the month was 4.2 million, well short of the 5 million hires mark set at the beginning of the recession, but up 13 percent since recessions end. Over the prior 12 months, the hires rate changed little for nonfarm and private-sector was little changed, but was higher for government, though only at the state and local levels; the federal government hires rate fell during the period.
Total separations changed little over the year in the nonfarm and private sectors but increased for government. The rate of quits for the month change little for any sector though the number of quits increased by 0.2 million since the end of the recession, rising from 1.8 million in June 2009 to 2 million in January 2012. Layoffs and discharges were also essentially unchanged in January for all sectors and regions. Total January layoffs numbered 1.6 million, down 0.5 million from the June 2009 peak of 2.1 million.