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Businesses, Workers Show Confidence

coins in jarIn a season of mixed economic news, we received positive data this morning on job openings, as well as the number of people who are quitting their job, which tend to be good signs for the labor market.

The Labor Department this morning reported that in December, there were 5.6 million job openings, up from 5.3 million in November. That’s the second highest reading since the department began gathering the data in 2000. “It would suggest that not all businesses are fearing slower global growth,” said Bob Hughes, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. Businesses are showing confidence by demonstrating they want to hire, he said.

The number of people who quit their job, meanwhile, came in at 3.055 million in December, the first time this number has gone over 3 million since 2006. “We’ve had a nice pickup there over the last couple of months,” Hughes said. Workers are also showing confidence by their willingness to change jobs, whether or not they have a new one in hand, he said.

Amid other signs that the economy may be softening, this is a time to pay close attention to the data as it comes out, Hughes said.

“You get more mixed readings around a turning point. You need to be that much more sensitive to signs of weakness,” Hughes said.

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