WASHINGTON - Employers posted more job openings in June and layoffs fell, a sign that hiring could improve a bit in the coming months.
The number of available jobs rose to 3.1 million, up from 3 million in May, the Labor Department said yesterday. It was the highest total since March.
Still, 14 million Americans remain jobless. The weak economy is not generating enough jobs to rapidly reduce that figure. And the total number of job openings is far below healthy levels seen before the recession.
For those who are out of work, there is heavy competition for each available position. An average of 4.5 unemployed people were competing for each job in June. That’s down only slightly from 4.6 in May. In a healthy economy, the ratio is about 2 to 1.
Even if all the positions were filled, there would still be about 11 million unemployed people. That compares to the 7.7 million who were out of work when the recession began.
There were more jobs available in retail, at hotels and restaurants, and for professionals, a broad category that includes accountants, engineers, and temporary help. Postings fell in construction, education, and health care. Open manufacturing positions were flat. Layoffs fell slightly from a nine-month high in May.