US job openings jumped in January, before virus outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers sharply increased the number of jobs they advertised in January, a sign the job market and economy were in mostly solid shape before the virus outbreak hit.

Businesses, nonprofits and government agencies posted nearly 7 million open jobs in January, up 6.3% from the previous month. Hiring slowed, while the number of people quitting their jobs was largely unchanged.

Quits can be a sign of economic strength since most people quit a job when they have another lined up. Overall, the figures show that in January there were more jobs available than the number of unemployed, but that will likely change sharply as companies lay off workers and freeze hiring amid widespread closures and self-isolation intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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