– February 11, 2015
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The improving economy – and the distance it still has yet to go – came into focus this week, as for the first time since January 2001, we learned there were more than 5 million job openings in this country in December.

With the early criticism that this recovery has been of the “jobless” sort, the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday was a welcome sign of the strength of the labor market, as business look to expand and add to payrolls. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen looks to this data, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), as part of her labor dashboard to help give a picture of conditions in the labor market.

But the rate at which people leave their jobs is still not as strong as it could be. About 2.7 million Americans quit their jobs in December, either because they found a new one, or they’re confident that they will.  That number hasn’t hit the levels of prior expansions, said Bob Hughes, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. But it is likely to continue trending higher, Hughes said.

While there’s confidence in the economy because of lower energy prices and a rising stock market, “people aren’t as quick to jump ship,” suggesting there’s still some apprehension about the labor market, Hughes said.

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Aaron Nathans

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