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Growing job openings, more quits suggests higher pay on the horizon

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WASHINGTON — U.S. companies advertised more available jobs in December and more Americans quit, trends that could lift wages in the coming months.

The Labor Department says the number of job openings jumped 4.9 percent to 5.6 million, the most since July. And quits increased 6.9 percent to nearly 3.1 million, the highest in more than nine years.

People typically quit for better-paying positions, so more quits are a sign that overall pay levels could increase. Employers have also struggled to fill many open jobs, which could push them to offer higher pay to attract workers.

The data comes after the government said last week that hiring had slowed sharply in January. Yet wages grew at a solid pace, and the unemployment rate fell to an eight-year low of 4.9 percent.

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