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Government job openings plunge in January

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Governments advertised far fewer jobs in January, offering the latest sign that cuts at the state and local level could slow hiring this year.

The Labor Department says there were 2.76 million job openings at the end of January. That’s down by 161,000, or 5.5 percent, from December’s revised total.

Most of the decline was the result of fewer government positions. Those job openings fell by 115,000 openings, a 27 percent decline for that sector.

Job openings have risen by 649,000 since they bottomed out in July 2009, one month after the recession ended. That’s an increase of 31 percent.

But they are still far below the 4.35 million available jobs that were advertised in December 2007, when the recession began.