Job openings stuck near record-lows

November 10, 2009 4:04:08 PM PST
Job openings are at rock-bottom levels, according to government and private surveys released Tuesday, a trend that could keep the unemployment rate high even as layoffs slow.

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Small businesses in particular are reluctant to add workers as they struggle to obtain credit. Many are pushing their current employees to produce more. Economists say small businesses account for about 60 percent of new jobs. Still, there are some pockets of hiring as demand for information technology and sales professionals grows, according to government reports and job search Web sites. And there are signs that companies are adding more human resources personnel, which could signal more hiring down the road. "We've seen a real spike in the hiring of contract recruiters," said Phil Haynes, managing director of AllianceQ, an employers' association that includes companies such as Starbucks Corp., Bank of America Corp. and Intuit Inc. "The recruiters come before the jobs." But overall, it's a tough time to be out of work. There are about 6.1 unemployed workers, on average, competing for each job opening, a Labor Department report shows. That's down slightly from 6.2 last month, the most since the department began tracking job openings nine years ago.

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