U.S. job openings rose in January by more than forecast, to an almost one-year high, bolstering projections for a faster pace of hiring as more Americans receive coronavirus vaccines and demand quickens.

The number of available positions increased to 6.92 million during the month from an upwardly revised 6.75 million in December, the Labor Departments Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 6.7 million openings.

Employers, struggling for months with pandemic-related disruptions to their work forces, are looking to ensure adequate headcounts as the economy strengthens and vaccination rates increase. Openings increased in industries including construction, manufacturing and health care. They fell in leisure and hospitality.

The number of people who voluntarily left their job decreased to 3.31 million, pushing the quits rate down to 2.3% from 2.4%. Separations, which include both layoffs and quits, dropped to 5.31 million from 5.58 million.

A separate report from the Labor Department Thursday showed that jobless claims declined to a four-month low in the week ended March 6, pointing to further gradual improvement in the labor market.

Read more: Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Since November With More Vaccines

Digging Deeper

  • Job vacancies rose to a three-month high of 515,000 in manufacturing and increased to 309,000 in construction
  • The number of hires, which includes rehired employees, declined to 5.3 million from 5.41 million
  • Openings that involve workers recalled from layoffs or positions that are only offered internally are not counted in the headline figure

With assistance by Chris Middleton, and Kristy Scheuble

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