US job openings hit record high of 7.3 million in December

The number of job openings in the U.S. climbed to a record high in December, with more than 7.3 million open jobs.

It edged up slightly from the 6.9 million openings in the previous month, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released by the Labor Department on Tuesday morning.

The previous high was set in August, when the vacancies level hit 7.14 million for the month.

That means job postings still exceed the number of unemployed people in the U.S. by about 800,000 (there are about 6.35 million unemployed people in the U.S.). The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up slightly in January, rising to 4 percent, while the labor force participation rate also rose slightly to 63.2 percent.

Most of the job openings were in the private sector, with the largest increases in construction, accommodation and food services, and health care and social assistance. The job openings level decreased in several industries, with the biggest losses in nondurable goods manufacturing, the federal government and real estate and rental and leasing.


Meanwhile, hiring remained mostly steady at 5.9 million in December. Quits also stayed mostly the same at 3.5 million, while the number of turnovers was also little unchanged at 5.5 million.

The data comes on the heels of the January jobs report, which revealed the U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs -- blowing past Wall Street’s expectations.