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US job openings, hiring and quits climb as labor market keeps strengthening

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WASHINGTON — U.S. employers advertised slightly more jobs in November as overall hiring edged up and more Americans quit their jobs in signs of a healthier environment for workers.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of job postings rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 5.4 million. That figure has slipped after peaking at a record 5.7 million in July, but stands 11 percent higher than a year ago.

"The labor market will continue to improve, but that we will see some moderation in job growth," said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan Chase.

The annual increase shows that employers remain confident despite the financial turmoil in China, lower oil prices and a European economy tenuously emerging from its recent struggles. Only manufacturers have pulled back on job openings over the past 12 months, a reflection of the stronger dollar and weak international growth hurting sales abroad.

PHOTO: FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, military veteran Mark Cannon, of Miami, right, talks with Cynthia Carcillo, left, a veterans outreach representative for Career Source Broward, about employment opportunities at a job fair for veterans, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. U.S. employers advertised slightly more jobs in November as overall hiring edged up and more Americans quit their jobs in signs of a healthier environment for workers, according to information released by the Labor Department, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, military veteran Mark Cannon, of Miami, right, talks with Cynthia Carcillo, left, a veterans outreach representative for Career Source Broward, about employment opportunities at a job fair for veterans, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. U.S. employers advertised slightly more jobs in November as overall hiring edged up and more Americans quit their jobs in signs of a healthier environment for workers, according to information released by the Labor Department, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

The picture looks healthier for jobs insulated from the global economy. Advertisements for health care jobs have surged 34 percent over the past 12 months to more than a million. Postings for hotel and restaurant jobs have climbed 22 percent to 698,000.

Overall hiring picked up 3.4 percent to 5.2 million from a year ago. The number of people quitting their jobs, a sign of confidence that people can find better-paying work, rose 6.3 percent over the past year to 2.83 million.

Rising quits can also help broadly lift wages. That's because most people quit their jobs when they have another one lined up, usually at higher pay. More quitting also forces companies to provide raises for their existing workers to keep them from jumping ship.

Quits plummeted to just 1.6 million in August 2009, two months after the recession ended as Americans clung to the jobs they had. The figure has rebounded since then but remains below the pre-recession level of roughly 2.9 million.

The Labor Department said last week that employers added a strong 292,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate stayed low at 5 percent. But the creation of 2.65 million jobs in 2015 has done little to boost wages, which have risen just 2.5 percent in the past year.

Those figures are a net total: Jobs gained minus jobs lost. The data reported Tuesday in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey are more detailed. They calculate total hires, as well as quits and layoffs.

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