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February job openings increase to 3.5 million

February job openings increase to 3.5 million (by Ruth Mantell)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Job openings at U.S. workplaces increased to 3.5 million in February from 3.48 million in January, the U.S. Labor Department reported Tuesday. Compared with the prior year, job openings rose 16% -- private openings increased 16% to 3.13 million, and government openings rose to 373,000 from 315,000. There were about 4.3 million jobs open when the recession began in December 2007. With about 12.81 million unemployed people in February, there were about 3.7 potential job seekers for each opening, the same as in January. In February of 2011, there were about 13.75 million unemployed people - about 4.6 potential seekers per opening. The number of separations, such as quits and layoffs, ticked up to 4.09 million in February from 4.02 million in January. Meanwhile, the total number of hires increased to 4.39 million from 4.24 million. The level of hires was about 5 million when the recession began.