The number of open positions increased in February 2013 to a seasonally adjusted 3.93 million, an 8.7 percent month-to-month increase over January 2013. These figures represent highest number of jobs waiting to be filled in the U.S. economy since May of 2008.
In May of 2008, however, the national unemployment rate was at 5.4 percent, 2.3 percent lower than the 7.7 percent rate in February 2013. It seems for all the open jobs in the economy, business owners and hiring managers are holding off on hires. Employers only hired 4.4 million people in February, a 2.8 percent increase over January.
According to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), economists believe the disconnect between job openings and hires reflects a concern that the economy is still too tenuous to allow for the hire of any but the most qualified employees.
"We're living in a fear-based environment right now," said recruiting firm CEO Kim First. "They are really reluctant to make that leap of faith. (Companies) need someone to come in and hit the ground running."
Though BLS numbers indicated slow corporate hiring, there was some good news for workers already employed. Layoffs remained low in February 2013. Year-to-year, layoffs in the private sector declined from February 2012, but this number increased slightly in the public sector.