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US employers post more jobs, cut fewer workers

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers advertised more job openings in January, suggesting that hiring will remain healthy in the coming months.

Job openings rose 2.2 percent in January from December to 3.69 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Openings had fallen nearly 5 percent in December. They are still below November’s level of nearly 3.8 million.

There were other positive signs: Employers laid off the fewest workers in January than in any month since records began in 2001. And the number of Americans quitting their jobs rose to the highest in more than four years. People usually quit when they have another job, so more quitting suggests it is easier to find work.

There is still a lot of competition for open positions. About 12.3 million people were unemployed in January. That means there were 3.3 unemployed people, on average, competing for each job. In a healthy economy, that ratio is roughly 2 to 1.