The competition for jobs is intensifying as companies are reluctant to hire new workers, leaving millions of unemployed Americans chasing fewer job openings. There were nearly 6.4 unemployed workers, on average, for each available job at the end of November, the Labor Department reports. That's up from 6.1 in October and a record high.
When the recession began in December 2007, the figure was 1.7. Job openings fell sharply to 2.42 million in November from 2.57 million in October, says the department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey. That may sound like a lot, given the depths of the recession, but it's the lowest number of job openings since July 2009 and the second-lowest since the department began tracking the data in 2000. It's also about half the peak level of 4.8 million, reached in June 2007.