US job openings jump to two-year high

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    WASHINGTON- US job openings rose to a two-year high in February while hiring picked up as strengthening domestic demand amid increased COVID-19 vaccinations and additional pandemic aid from the government boost companies’ needs for more workers.

    The Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, on Tuesday was the latest indication that the labor market had turned the corner after shedding jobs in December as the nation buckled under a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections and depleted government relief.

    “Labor demand should continue to heat up as companies brace for a post-pandemic burst in pent-up demand,” said Lydia Boussour, lead US economist at Oxford Economics in New York.

    Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased 268,000 to 7.4 million as of the last day of February. That was the highest level since January 2019 and pushed job openings 5.1 percent above their pre-pandemic level.

    The second straight monthly rise in vacancies lifted the jobs openings rate to a record 4.9 percent from 4.7 percent in January.

    There were an additional 233,000 job openings in the health care and social assistance industry. Vacancies in the accommodation and food services sector, one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, increased by 104,000 jobs. Arts, entertainment and recreation job openings rose 56,000. – Reuters