Employers posted solid job openings before virus shutdowns

Employers posted solid job openings before virus shutdowns
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WASHINGTON — U.S. employers posted a healthy number of job openings in February, evidence that the job market was in decent shape before the viral outbreak brought the economy to a near standstill.

The report, released by the Labor Department Tuesday, is largely an artifact from the pre-virus era, before nearly 90% of the U.S. population was subject to shutdown orders. Job postings have likely plummeted since February as layoffs have soared.

The number of available jobs fell modestly in February to 6.9 million, down from 7 million in January. There were still more open positions than unemployed people, a once-rare situation that had prevailed for about a year and a half until the coronavirus struck.

Nearly 10 million Americans lost their jobs in the second half of March and sought unemployment benefits, likely pushing the unemployment rate above 10%. The government’s jobs report for last month showed that the unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% from 3.5%, the largest one-month increase since 1975.

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press

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