By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — In the largest drop in more than three years, the number of job openings in the U.S. has plunged as the hiring rate fell and firings rose, according to government figures.
To economists, the data seem to be another signal of a so-called spring stall, in which a cooling economy tempers growth. Between the uncertainty in Europe, mixed forecasts domestically and the looming presidential election, experts worry that employers will curb hiring this summer.
Available jobs fell by 325,000 to 3.42 million positions in April, according to the Labor Department.
With roughly 12.5 million Americans jobless that month, there were about 3.7 people competing for each open position, not counting employed workers trying to switch jobs.
That’s double the pre-recession ratio of job seekers to jobs. Employers are looking for fewer workers in a range of sectors, including manufacturing, education and government.
In April, companies took in new hires for 4.18 million posts, 160,000 fewer than in March. Bosses, meanwhile, let 1.72 million workers go, an increase of about 70,000.
The unemployment rate rose in May to 8.2 percent for the first time in nearly a year from 8.1 percent. But Tuesday’s report noted that there were a million more job openings in April than at the end of the recession in June 2009.