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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers stepped up their hiring in November, though they advertised fewer jobs for a second straight month. The mixed data suggest the job market has strengthened but employers remain cautious.
Until this fall, most of the improvement in the job market since the recession ended has been largely because of a sharp drop in layoffs. The jump in hiring reported Tuesday suggests companies are feeling more confident in the economy and are expanding, albeit slowly.
Employers filled almost 4.15 million jobs in November, a 3 percent increase from the previous month. That nearly matched September's hiring level, which was the highest since May 2010.
Henry Mo, an economist at Credit Suisse, said in a note to clients that layoffs have fallen to pre-recession levels, but overall hiring hasn't yet rebounded.
"In that regard, it is encouraging to observe that hiring rose," Mo said.
Companies and governments posted 3.16 million jobs in November, the Labor Department said, down from 3.22 million in the previous month. Openings reached a three-year high of 3.4 million in September.
It generally takes one to three months for job openings to be filled. The modest decline in November suggests that job gains may fluctuate in the first couple of months of this year.
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