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Job openings tick down to 3.1 million in December

Job openings tick down to 3.1 million in December (by Ruth Mantell)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Job openings at U.S. workplaces ticked down to 3.1 million in December from 3.2 million in November, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. Private job openings fell to 2.6 million from 2.9 million. Openings have gained about 21% in the past year. There were about 4.4 million jobs open when the recession began in December 2007. With about 14.5 million unemployed people in December, there were almost five potential job seekers for each opening. The number of separations, such as quits and layoffs, remained at about 4.2 million in December. Meanwhile, the total number of people hired also stayed around 4.2 million, with private-sector hiring of about 3.9 million.