Looking for work? 3 million jobs are available

By Chris Isidore, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The picture is improving for unemployed job seekers.

In February, hiring picked up and the ratio of unemployed seekers to available jobs improved to reach the lowest level since the end of 2008, according to the latest government readings released Wednesday.

The Labor Department reported that there were 3.1 million job openings in February, up 352,000 from January and 570,000 from year-earlier levels. It was the largest number of available positions since September 2008.

"Today's report was broadly positive and reflects continued improvement in the labor market," wrote Theresa Chen, an economist with Barclays Capital, in a note Wednesday. "We are particularly encouraged by the persistent rise in the job openings rate."

With fewer people unemployed in recent months, there are only 4.4 unemployed job seekers for every opening, an improvement from the ratio of 5.1 jobless for every opening in January.

That ratio, which was an average of two jobless for every open position in the seven years before the start of the recession, reached a high of 6.9 jobless for every opening in July 2009.

The report also showed that the number of new hires by employers in February rose to 3.9 million, up 138,000 from January. Those laid-off or fired was little changed, with 1.6 million dismissals in February, up 50,000 from the January reading, which was a record low since the data started being collected in late 2000.

The number of people quitting their jobs also rose, a good sign for labor market because people typically are more willing to leave their jobs when they have found better positions or have confidence in the job market. There were 1.9 million workers who quit their jobs in February, up 254,000 from January and the highest level of those quitting in two years. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,659.02 -221.34 -1.31%
Nasdaq 4,388.76 -74.14 -1.66%
S&P 500 1,941.23 -28.84 -1.46%
Treasuries 2.55 -0.00 -0.12%
Data as of 1:33pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Micron Technology In... 30.76 -1.77 -5.44%
Apple Inc 95.83 -2.32 -2.37%
Bank of America Corp... 15.30 -0.28 -1.77%
Facebook Inc 73.21 -1.47 -1.96%
Tyson Foods Inc 37.60 -0.61 -1.58%
Data as of 1:18pm ET

Sections

World Wrestling Entertainment is known for its bone-crushing body slams, but now the company is slamming its workers. More

At an age when they should be thinking about retirement, these workers are working harder and in more jobs than ever. More

Terrell White has had a profit-sharing plan for his employees since 1981, believing that if the staff isn't happy, guests won't be either. More

The Mason family, which has been struggling to pay the $100,000 student loan bill they were left with when their daughter passed away five years ago, is now seeing an outpouring of support. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.